As CEO of Northwest Airlines from October 2004 through October 2008, Doug Steenland oversaw a carrier that embraced new distribution technologies and helped change the economic model to the benefit of airlines. Effective this week, he's sitting on the board of Travelport, a GDS operator that presumably would prefer to forestall another round of upheaval.
Steenland's appointment as vice chairman is one of several recent changes to the board. Among those, former Travelport president and CEO Jeff Clarke on June 1 stepped up to executive chairman, as his successor Gordon Wilson secured a new seat. Greg O'Hara in March resigned from the board, as he transitioned to a different role within JPMorgan Chase, whose One Equity investment arm owns part of Travelport. Though Travelport in June had expected "in the near future" to name a new director representing the One Equity stake, a spokeswoman this week noted that Steenland's appointment "is not connected" to O'Hara's spot, and declined to offer an update on that seat.
Instead, Steenland, like two other members of the six-person board, is connected to another Travelport owner, The Blackstone Group, where he is a senior advisor to its private equity arm. Travelport will pay Steenland $250,000 per year for his work on the board.
Until this year, Steenland also served on the Delta Air Lines board, where he has held a seat since the carrier closed its merger with Northwest in October 2008. He maintains seats on the boards of Hilton Worldwide Inc. and a few non-travel-related companies.
Travelport's Clarke commented, "Doug brings a wealth of relevant industry, executive and board experience to the company."