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Talk of the bay

Gate Gourmet serves up new role for former airline chief

By STEVE HUETTEL
Published June 14, 2004

Less than two months after leaving as chief executive of US Airways, David Siegel landed another executive job in the aviation industry last week. Just not in the business of flying planes.

Gate Gourmet Group Inc., a Swiss airline food catering company, named Siegel, 42, as its chairman and chief executive. One of the largest airline catering companies, Gate Gourmet says it produces more than 195-million meals a year and employs 22,000 workers.

Siegel "brings a unique customer perspective, a broad understanding of the airline business and proven track record of success," said outgoing chairman James Coulter, who will remain as a nonexecutive member of the board.

Siegel quit US Airways in April under pressure from the company's board, including chairman David Bronner, chief of Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Siegel led US Airways though a bankruptcy reorganization that involved steep wage cuts for employees. Despite the cost-cutting, US Airways had to go back to workers for further concessions this year, and Siegel said his resignation was the price for healing the airline's labor relations.

But his earlier airline experience likely paid off in the latest job hunt. Texas Pacific Group bought Gate Gourmet in December 2002. The private equity firm is led by financier David Bonderman, a friend of Siegel.

Texas Pacific helped bring Continental Airlines out of bankruptcy in 1993, when Siegel was an executive there. Texas Pacific made a bid to buy a stake in US Airways during the carrier's bankruptcy but was beaten out by Retirement Systems of Alabama.

[Last modified June 13, 2004, 10:38:09]

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