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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Pickett Named Distinguished Engineering Alumnus

November 4, 2003

George F. Pickett, founder, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Southeast Airlines, was named UTA's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus for 2003-04. Pickett has held progressively responsible positions in engineering, aircraft maintenance, customer service, marketing and general management during his 32 years of airline management experience.

Pickett earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering in 1967 from Arlington State College, now UTA. Following his graduation, Pickett joined Southern Airways, a local service airline based in Atlanta, as its reliability engineer. In this position, he was responsible for managing the company's programs concerning the mechanical performance of aircraft systems and for serving as liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration. This assignment was followed by additional technical experience in the design of maintenance procedures and the scheduling and control of aircraft maintenance work.

Pickett’s marketing experience began with Southern in 1974. Here he was responsible for the overall marketing of Southern’s scheduled passenger business. This included the development of annual marketing plans, direction of all consumer research, design of customer service standards, and the development of all advertising and sales promotions. Under his direction, the airline’s 1975 television ads became famous, winning three Clio awards - including best in category, most effective use of humor and best overall television commercial of the year.

In 1979, Pickett and two other Southern employees founded Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Inc. Designed to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, ASA began service in June, 1979 with one 18-passenger turboprop aircraft operating five roundtrip flights per day between Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia - a distance of only 85 miles. By May of 1980, the company was operating three aircraft and had begun generating the consistent stream of profits, which would continue throughout its history. It became a publicly held company in 1982.

ASA began its most dramatic growth in 1984 when it solidified its existing relationship with Delta Airlines by becoming the first Delta Connection carrier. This marketing agreement facilitated sales to customers between the major carrier's long-haul routes and the regional carrier's short-haul routes at their joint hubs in Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth. Its growth was further spurred in 1996, when it began operating regional jet aircraft - their speed greatly increasing the range of cities the airline could serve.

Delta acquired ASA in 1999 and now operates it as a wholly owned subsidiary. Today, ASA operates over 800 daily flights to 100 cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. It flies 84 modern jet aircraft and employs more than 5500 people.