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EYECATCHERS: Eastern’s Astronaut

2 minute read

Astronaut Frank Borman gained global fame on Christmas Eve 1968 when, from the first moon-orbiting space capsule, his voice was heard on radio and TV sets round the world reading from the Book of Genesis. A week later, Borman and Crewmates James Lovell and William Anders were chosen TIME’S Men of the Year. Yet Borman soon learned that man does not live by glory alone. In 1970, the onetime fighter pilot, then 42, joined Eastern Air Lines as a vice president with vaguely defined duties. “People thought I was going to be some kind of p.r. man,” says Borman.

Instead, Borman has proved to be a tough, able executive. In July he was promoted to executive vice president in charge of all Eastern operations, making him part of the line’s top management triumvirate, along with Chairman Floyd Hall and Chief Financial Officer Charles Simons. Lately Borman, who earns $110,000 a year, has played a major role in lifting the carrier out of the red. Last month Eastern reported profits of $16.9 million for this year’s first nine months, v. a $24 million loss in the comparable period last year. Among other things, Borman cut operating costs by supervising the firing of nearly 3,000 Eastern workers, including 870 in higher echelons. “We’ve done away with committees and claptrap,” he says. He regained Eastern’s reputation for punctuality by rearranging some schedules, dropping others, and improving baggage handling. He has also started “friendliness” classes for some 9,000 Eastern employees who deal with the public. Says Borman: “There’s no fancy footwork, no easy way. You’ve got to go out and operate a good service company.”

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