It was sort of a changing of the guard, more than two months ahead of schedule, at the Amadeus Horizons 2010 conference in San Francisco.
On the stage, answering questions from a moderator on Oct. 15, were David Jones, president and CEO, who will leave office in January 2011, and Luis Maroto, deputy CEO, who will succeed Jones.
Moderator Nellie O'Brien asked Jones about some of the innovations he's seen during his career and Jones joked about about the first time he saw doors open automatically, at Idlewild Airport (now JFK) in the early 1960s, and in recent years the advent of horizontal flat-bed seats in business class "for those of you who sit in the front third of the airline."
Getting more serious, Jones cited Qantas' airport of the future, of which Amadeus has a 17% piece of the work, as an exciting project.
Jones has been CEO since Jan. 1, 2009, but when asked about some of the company's most important accomplishments, he spoke about some of the company's key decisions over the last decade.
The talk turned to legacy and legacies.
The most important, Jones said, was the "early decision" to transition from legacy to open systems and Service-Oriented Architecture, and "the escape from the tyrannical constraints of the hardware."
Another officials at the conference said that migration is 90% complete and would be finished in 2012.
Unlike Amadeus' GDS competitors, Jones said the company also made "the critical strategic decision" not to outsource operations.
Asked about accomplishments, Jones pointed to the speed with which Amadeus grew from a regional to a global distribution system in the 1990s.
When asked about some of the challenges along the way, Jones cited the emergence of low cost carriers.
"They have been immensely disruptive to many people in this room, including to us, but we are getting to love them," Jones said.
With GDSs and LCCS, it evidently wasn't always love at first sight.
Of his tenure as CEO, Jones pointed to the Amadeus IPO in March 2010 as an accomplishment.
Jones said he led the IPO and called it "a considerable achievement that I'm proud of, but that's only an internal thing."
Then it was Maroto's turn.
Asked about the big challenges he will face when he loses the deputy part of his title in January 2011, Maroto cited managing complexity, delivering innovative solutions and balancing the needs of individual customers with those of the "community."
Talking about that complexity, Maroto said he is excited about the transition and that collaboration with the industry will be more vital than ever.
As the two walked off the stage together, Jones challenged Maroto to tell the truth about the transition, saying what Maroto really wants is to get "the old boy (Jones) out of here."
Whether it is legacy systems or CEOs, some transitions just have to run their course.
Disclosure: Amadeus paid this writer’s flight and hotel expenses for the Amadeus Horizons 2010 conference.