American Airlines announces departure of CCO Vasu Raja

His departure marks a significant shift as the airline seeks to reverse course on several key strategic decisions.

Vasu Raja to leave American Airlines / Image - American Airlines

American Airlines announced that Vasu Raja, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, will exit the company in June.  Raja, who has been with American Airlines since 2004, has served as chief commercial officer since April 2022. 

Raja's tenure was marked by ambitious initiatives, including establishing a Boston hub, forming a Northeast operating agreement with JetBlue, and launching a Seattle hub partnership with Alaska Airlines. He also spearheaded the highly anticipated Seattle-Bangalore flight.

However, many of his initiatives faced challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted his plans, and a judge's ruling undermined the alliance with JetBlue. One of Raja’s more controversial strategies involved pushing corporate customers to book directly through American Airlines’ site rather than through travel agencies. 

This move dismantled the traditional corporate sales division in favor of a new distribution capability (NDC), a strategy that ultimately failed and contributed to Raja’s dismissal. Prior to his current position, Raja served as chief revenue officer and senior vice president of network strategy, where he was responsible for network and alliances.  

Effective immediately, Stephen Johnson, vice chair and chief strategy officer, will assume leadership of the commercial organization and help lead the search for a new chief commercial officer. The airline’s stock plunged following Raja’s dismissal, the most in almost four years.