US Airways CEO Lands P.E. Gig

As the airline industry continued its downward spiral last week, Rakesh Gangwal decided not to stick around for the possible crash landing.

The former president and chief executive of US Airways Inc. and parent company US Airways Group stepped down from his post there early last week to pursue a position at an as-yet-undisclosed private equity firm.

At this point, both US Airways and Gangwal have remained tight-lipped about exactly where the former US Airways executive is slated to land.

At least one firm, Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm The Carlyle Group – whose offices are only a short distance from US Airways’ Arlington, Va., headquarters – has denied that Gangwal will be joining the ranks there.

Stephen Wolf, who currently serves as chairman of US Airways and its parent company, has been tapped to take over the chief executive position at both companies.

“While we are disappointed with [Gangwal’s] decision to seek a new career path, we wish him success in the future,” Wolf said in a prepared statement.

Still, one analyst indicated that Gangwal’s departure from US Airways may not have been quite so amicable.

US Airways lost approximately $766 million in the third quarter, and remains the country’s highest-cost airline.

As such, it’s possible that Gangwal may have been “nudged out” due to US Airways’ continuing struggles, said ABN Amro Analyst Ray Neidl last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Danielle Fugazy can be contacted