If airline exec Stephen Wolf ever pens a management book, it'll have three chapters: 1) Extract worker concessions by threatening to dismantle the company. 2) Sell the company. 3) Cash out royally. That's what experts figure he'll do at USAir, where he was named chief executive on Jan. 16.
Wolf employed such a strategy at Republic Airlines and at Flying Tiger; he sold United Airlines to employees in 1994 before departing with $10 million in cash and stock options. Former colleagues were surprised that the turnaround ace, 54, would jump back into the cockpit so soon. After leaving United, Wolf seemed eager to spend time restoring vintage Jaguars, running his foundation for poor youths, and touring Paris cafes.
Why go back to work so soon? One ex-colleague thinks Wolf wants to dispel his image as a bad guy. But Wolf may face his toughest foe yet in USAir's unions. "Obviously Wolf is going to beat up on employees, and it's our job to stop him," warns Ken Thiede, chief of the airline's machinists' union.