Long-established airlines risk losing out to the younger low-cost carriers unless they break their “mono-male” culture, according to a study by the headhunters Egon Zehnder.
The report warns that if the world’s biggest airlines do not shake up their heavily male, top-heavy management structures and bring in more diverse talent, they will continue to lose business to the low-cost carriers which have been outperforming them.
Citing easyJet’s hiring of Carolyn McCall as chief executive, EZ’s Christoph Wahl said that low-cost carriers were more diverse and performed better.
“This raises the question whether diversity of leadership tends to foster a spirit and culture in favour of fresh ideas, openness towards change as well as agility in taking fast decisions,” he said.
The study found that the older, established airlines were dominated by male former engineers or pilots who had been in the industry for most of their careers. “The managements are inward-looking and often a handful of insiders make most of the decisions. All industry needs fresh talent and fresh ideas,” Mr Wahl said.
Less than 13 per cent of top executives in the industry are female and most are in PR or human resources.
The other female airline bosses are Jayne Hrdlicka of Jetstar and Claudia Sender of Brazil’s TAM.
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