TWA expected to tap ex-Piedmont chief


Trans World Airlines is expected to name a chairman as early as today: William R. Howard, the former chairman of Piedmont Airlines, who was widely credited with turning that carrier into one of the more successful airlines of the 1980s.

TWA, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since January 1992, decided on Mr. Howard because he is highly regarded on Wall Street, as well as within the airline industry, people familiar with the expected appointment said. In recent years, the airline has had leaders with plenty of one or the other

quality, but not both.

Carl C. Icahn, for example, was better known as a financier than as an airline leader before he turned over TWA's reins this year to the current co-chief executives, Glenn R. Zander and Robin Wilson, whose experience far outweighs their name recognition. Those two executives are expected to be named to other senior management positions at TWA.

A spokesman at TWA declined to comment on the possible appointment, and Howard's whereabouts yesterday could not be learned.

Mr. Howard, 71, is perhaps best known for his harmonious relations with labor unions -- which will own 45 percent of a reorganized TWA.

Friends say Mr. Howard is constantly looking for new challenges, and he has clearly found one at TWA. The airline is hoping to confound the many industry observers who have predicted that its demise is inevitable.

People familiar with the airline's finances say the carrier is largely keeping up with the somewhat optimistic projections it has set for itself. For example, TWA had roughly $77 million in cash at the end of June. Traffic levels are also close to those projected, and the money it earns per passenger is ahead of its plan.

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