Cruise has hired former Delta Air Lines senior executive Gil West as its first Chief Operating Officer.
West left Delta Air Lines in September of last year, where he was responsible for the company’s worldwide operations. Delta Air Lines operates more than 1,300 planes and serves more than 200 million customers per year.
“Gil’s track record of delivering amazing customer experience, exceptional operating performance and flawless safety, all at large scale, is a perfect fit for Cruise as we begin the journey to commercialize our self-driving technology,” Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement.
“Cruise is leading the way to change lives and up-end the status quo of transportation,” added West. “There will be no bigger shift in the transportation industry in my lifetime than the move to self-driving. I’ve been training my entire career for an opportunity like this one.”
Cruise, which is majority-owned by General Motors, is currently working on its first-ever fully autonomous robotaxi, the Cruise Origin. The company hopes to eventually launch a ride-hailing and ride-sharing service with the Origin that will ferry customers to and from their destinations without the need to hire outside contracts a la Uber and Lyft.
West graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science and Mechanical Engineering in 1984, according to his LinkedIn profile, and later also earned an MBA from National University in San Diego 1990.
Cruise recently received approval to begin testing its fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EV self-driving prototypes on San Francisco streets without an operator in the driver’s seat. The company is currently in a race against rivals like Zoox and Waymo to develop commercially viable self-driving technology and hopes to put the Origin into production within the next couple of years.
It’s not clear when West will move into his new role as the COO of Cruise.