Hollywood producers looking to cast the role of a senior executive heading an airline flying to exotic destinations would easily select Dave Pflieger. He is smart, young, attractive, articulate and secretive. He has lived on the edge (Air Force pilots are considered macho); is self-confident (without being cocky), and welcomes the challenge of bringing the historically interesting but economically challenged Air Pacific airline back to profitability.
Years of Experience
Born into a military family in Seoul, Korea, Pflieger graduated from the US Naval Academy (1985) in Annapolis, Maryland, and flew B-52s and C-130s in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. He obtained his MBA and law degree (with distinction) from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Aviation Safety Program.
His was associated with the law firm of King and Spalding until he was lured away by an offer from Delta Airlines where he became the Director of Flight Safety, Chief Operating Attorney and flew 767s, 757s and 737s. As the VP Operations with Delta’s Song he orchestrated the transit of 7 million people each year.
In 2004 he joined Virgin America as a founding officer, serving as General Counsel, Senior Vice President Legal, Government Affairs and Sustainability, as well as Vice President Operational Control Center and – he got to fly the planes as a Virgin America Captain – piloting the airline’s inaugural flight from Washington, DC to San Francisco.
Not Just a Pretty Face
It is possible that Pflieger was selected CEO because of his political acumen evidenced at Virgin America where he fought against competitors and the US government to prove the company complied with foreign ownership requirements. His negotiating prowess will definitely be called into play as he works Air Pacific and Fiji through the turbulence being created by the controversial issue known as Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement (PIASA; it has been approved by most regional governments, except Fiji, who wants to protect Air Pacific from the forces of competition. If implemented, the agreement would open the Pacific Islands airline route to all islands airlines instead of flights conditionally restricted by bilateral agreements negotiated by governments. It is interesting to note that PIASA currently exists; however, none of the countries that are signatories to the agreement have yet implemented it.
Resistance to the agreement also comes from the Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA) an organization representing most of the region’s airlines. ASPA believes that the accord would open the region to aggressive competitors from foreign airlines. Australia based airlines are of special concern for they are in a position to pick the profitable routes, leaving government-owned regional airlines to run unprofitable social service routes that are government mandated.
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