TWA Says Pearson Will Replace Meyer as Chief

In the first major management change at Trans World Airlines since it became the object of a protracted takeover battle, the airline said Tuesday that Richard D. Pearson will become president and chief executive, replacing C. E. Meyer Jr., who will leave next year to head Hilton International Corp.

Pearson has been executive vice president and chief operating officer since last year and is the airline’s chief union negotiator.

Word of the change came two weeks after Texas Air Corp. bested New York financier Carl C. Icahn in a fight to acquire TWA by offering $793.5 million for the New York-based carrier.

“I don’t think (Meyer’s departure) has anything to do with recent events involving Mr. Icahn and the merger with Texas Air,” said Jerry Cosley, vice president-communications at TWA. “Basically, Hilton offered this job, and it is a new kind of challenge for him.” Meyer was not available, and a spokesman for Texas Air declined to comment.


Meyer, who was named president and chief executive of TWA in 1979, will join Hilton International, a subsidiary of Transworld Corp., next January as president and chief executive. President Curt R. Strand is retiring at that time and will assume the title of chairman.

Observers say Meyer is leaving at a critical time for the airline, which will soon begin negotiating new contracts with some of its largest unions.

The unions, which have threatened to strike, are also opposed to the Texas Air deal because of President Francisco Lorenzo’s past tough stance with unions.

“Pearson will be a net plus,” said John V. Pincavage, an airline analyst with Paine, Webber, Jackson & Curtis in New York. “He has a much higher level of trust with the rank and file union members of the airline.”


In a prepared statement, Meyer said: “The succession of leadership at TWA has been carefully planned. . . . The outcome of these (union) discussions should significantly affect the way TWA will be able to address its labor costs, a factor critical to the future success of the airline.”