Former Delta president Hollis Harris dies

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010723 Peachtree City, Ga.: Portrait of Hollis L. Harris who is Chairman and CEO of World Airways.(ANDY KJELLGREN/Special)

Former Delta Air Lines president Hollis Harris has died at the age of 84.

Hollis Harris

Hollis L. Harris.(ANDY KJELLGREN/Special)

Harris, who was president and chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Delta from 1987 to 1990, went on to become CEO of Continental Airlines, then was named CEO of Air Canada, and later became CEO of World Airways.

He was a native of Carrollton and lived in Peachtree City since 1969. Harris was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.

FROM THE AJC ARCHIVES:

“If Hollis Harris were back at Delta, I would come back out of retirement and work for $8 an hour. That man knew how to run an airline.”

–The Vent, 6/13/2005

Several employees recalled old times at Delta with fondness, saying they would like to see someone like Hollis Harris take the reins.

–November 25, 2003, on the Delta CEO changeover from Leo Mullin to Gerald Grinstein.

“There is a tremendous amount of affection for Hollis Harris,” said Karen McGuffey, spokeswoman for Delta’s pilots union.

“He would rekindle the faith, ” said T.J. Galvin, a 20-year Delta pilot.

–May 16, 1997, “Many Delta staff favor former exec Harris for CEO”

“We are in a battle to survive, ” Harris said in a taped message to Continental Airlines employees, as the company announced plans to cut 600 jobs and 133 flights, the day before he left the airline. “We are at war with forces within the company and outside the company.”

–August 22, 1991, “Continental chief out; disagreement cited”

“I see you as dedicated, ” Harris told Continental Airlines employees. “You are spirited. You are very competitive. You are right up there with the best in the industry.”

–August 15, 1990

Hollis Harris kept the secret for two months, and when he finally dropped his bombshell this week it was a historic moment for Delta Air Lines. The airline’s 58-year-old president, a quintessential Delta man who began his career there fresh out of Georgia Tech, is the highest-ranking executive in company history to jump ship.

–August 11, 1990, “Harris’s move to Continental leaves Delta chairman ‘floored'”

“It bothered some of the people at Delta (that Allen was chosen) because they thought Hollis (Hollis Harris, 55, president and chief operating officer) should have become the chairman, ” said an industry observer who did not want to be identified. “They thought things should be done the old way – that you go from greasy hands to the top.”

–August 2, 1987, “Allen may give Delta new image”

“If I had it to do all over again, I still would, ” Harris said.

–April 7, 1991, “Harris is striving for goals that proved elusive at Delta;
Continental meets his dream of being No. 1 executive, but ailing airline
poses awesome challenge”


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