Changes at the top at Sabre

Company appoints travel industry veteran Kurt Ekert president of Sabre, separating roles of president and CEO; Dave Shirk steps down as president of Travel Solutions

Sabre Logo

Sabre Corporation announced recently that it has appointed industry veteran Kurt Ekert as president of Sabre, separating the roles of president and chief executive officer as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to build a leadership team for the future of Sabre. The appointment will take effect 3 January 2022. Ekert will oversee all aspects of the company’s business and technology operations, including the company’s technology transformation. He will report to Sean Menke, who will continue to serve as CEO with a focus on accelerating the execution of the company’s strategic plans to focus and strengthen its business, achieve its vision and deliver long-term value to its stakeholders.

“We are thrilled to have Kurt join Sabre as President during this pivotal phase in our transformation journey. He brings extensive global operating leadership and a deep understanding of the travel technology ecosystem. Kurt’s disciplined and accountable approach coupled with his understanding of what our customers need in an evolving marketplace make him an ideal individual to step into this leadership role,” Menke said.  “We firmly believe in a broad, global recovery, across both corporate and leisure travel. We are focusing our strategic efforts to capitalise on post-pandemic opportunities and unlock shareholder value – all with an eye toward achieving our bold vision to create a new marketplace for personalised travel. The appointment of Kurt as President – with his extensive industry experience, especially in corporate travel management and global distribution – is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

Kurt Ekert

Ekert has recently served five years as president and CEO of Carlson Worldwide Travel (CWT). There, he engineered a digital transformation and delivered material growth, highlighted by US$7 billion in new business wins. Ekert brings a deep background in distribution, including as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Travelport Worldwide Ltd, where he led the operational turnaround that enabled a successful IPO in 2014. He also previously held executive roles at Gulliver’s Travel Associates (GTA), Orbitz Worldwide, Cendant and Continental Airlines, and multiple board roles including at eNett and Carlson Travel Inc. “Sabre’s people and its compelling product offerings and customer relationships position the business well for the dynamic changes ahead in the travel sector. I am excited to partner with Sean and the global team to drive world-class innovation and performance,” Ekert said.

At Sabre, Ekert will have direct responsibility for the company’s travel solutions and hospitality solutions businesses, technology engineering and operations and Sabre Labs. Along with Ekert, the company’s finance, legal, human resources and communications functions will report to Menke.

The company also announced that effective 1 January 2022, Dave Shirk has elected to step down as president of Travel Solutions. Shirk will serve as a senior advisor to Menke and Ekert through 2022. “The travel ecosystem looks very different than it did 20 months ago, and while it presented challenges for many, including Sabre, we believe the time has also proven valuable in other ways – giving us the opportunity to accelerate our technology transformation and deliver industry-first capabilities that our customers truly value. We appreciate Dave’s contributions to our achievements and his leadership over the years. We head into 2022 emboldened in our belief that Sabre will continue to be a driving force for change in travel and we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping our customers operate more efficiently, drive revenue and deliver travel experiences that benefit travelers, travel suppliers, and agencies,” Menke said.

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