Southlake-based travel technology company Saber Corp. will replace CEO Sean Menke in March as the company tries to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sabre, which has lost more than $1.9 billion since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic upended the travel industry, is installing company president Kurt Ekert as its new CEO after coming to Saber a year ago. The company has narrowed losses, but still had a net loss of $165 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, the company reported in February.
In what the company says was a planned succession, Menke, 54, will become executive chairman of Saber’s board when the move takes place on April 27.
Saber is a leading booking platform for airlines, hotels and other companies within the travel world. But since the company’s revenue depends on ticket sales and hotel reservations, the company has struggled since the pandemic.
Its stock price is down nearly 75% since the end of 2019. The company still has about 2,000 fewer employees than in 2019.
“It has been an honor and privilege to help lead Saber over the past eight years,” Menke said in a statement. “I’m proud of what our teams have accomplished and how we’ve served our customers through unprecedented times.”
Saber brought in Ekert, 52, last year to oversee the sales, commercial, operational, product and technology aspects of the company after five years of business meetings and conferences at CWT.
Menke joined Saber in 2015 as president of Saber Travel Network after a career that included a three-year stint as CEO of Frontier Airlines.
But while airlines have been able to take advantage of higher fares to return to profitability, Saber has been hampered by continued business traveler delays and lower overall air travel volumes compared to 2019 for due to the ongoing pilot shortage across the industry.
Saber was founded in 1969 as the reservations arm of American Airlines, now headquartered in Fort Worth. American spun off from Saber as its own company in 1996.
CEO exits are on the rise to start this year, with 112 leaving their posts in January, according to a report released Tuesday by global business and executive management firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. That was a 12% increase on December and the highest monthly total since 150 CEOs left in May 2022.
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