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December 08, 2013

Senior vice president, government affairs: William Ris

Will RisWilliam Ris

Senior vice president, government affairs

Previous position: Senior vice president, government affairs, American Airlines

Age: 66

Education: B.S., Northwestern University; M.A., Johns Hopkins University; law degrees from University of Denver and Georgetown University.

Career: Trial attorney for U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board in the 1970s. Worked as counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and then as outside counsel for American while at the Wexler Group. Joined American in 1996 as its primary government affairs executive.

Top of to-do list: “We have to explain to people what’s going to happen from here on in because it’s not going to be instantaneous by any means. Day one, nobody is going to see a completed integrated airline. So I think what we’re trying to do, particularly with members of Congress, is to explain what the process is going to be and how it will take place and how long we expect it to take.”

Expected challenges: “The biggest challenge will be continuing to figure out how to operate in a period of great uncertainty with respect to the federal budget and that includes the possibility of our services being taxed more, which is being talked about right now.”

One thing that people may not know about you: His first job in aviation was with the Civil Aeronautics Board before airline deregulation. “It’s not that I knew anything about aviation or cared about it, I was just offered a lot of money. It was $14,000 a year and I could never imagine how I could spend all that money.”

-Andrea Ahles




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