Piloting a Revival
By Matthew Maier

(Business 2.0) – Plenty of traditional-airline execs talk about emulating discount carriers like Southwest and JetBlue, but only one has transformed his company into a true low-cost operation: Air Canada chairman Robert Milton.

After Air Canada, the world's 11th-largest carrier, declared bankruptcy in the wake of 9/11, Milton slashed $1.6 billion in annual costs. He began by persuading five unions to accept new contracts that will reduce labor expenses by more than $1 billion a year. He also made Air Canada's pricing more transparent, replacing 22 different fare types with five.

Air Canada emerged from bankruptcy in October, and in November announced that quarterly passenger revenue had climbed to $222 million. Excluding reorganization charges, operating income leaped by $226 million in Q3. Milton now expects Air Canada to land in the black later this year. — MATTHEW MAIER