Hollis Harris, a native of Carrollton, Georgia, attended Auburn University from 1949 to 1950. He joined the Army in 1951, served as battery commander in Germany during the Korean War and was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant. Harris returned to Georgia in 1954, and began work with Delta Air Lines as a transportation agent. He later became head of the Aircraft Engineering Department. His steady rise in the corporation in key management roles continued and, in 1987, he was named president and a member of Delta's Board of Directors. In 1990, Harris joined Continental Airlines as Chairman, President and CEO. He resigned from Continental in September of 1991 and became Chairman, President and CEO of Air Canada in 1992. The following year, he and the Air Partners Group brought Continental out of bankruptcy with the same kind of plan that Harris had been working on before he resigned from Continental Airlines.
While at Air Canada, Harris and Steve Wolf signed a "strategic agreement" between Air Canada and United Airlines that produced what is now the Star Alliance - the largest airline group in the world. In 1994, Harris was named the "Number One CEO" by the Financial Times of Canada. He was appointed Chairman, President and CEO of World Airways, Inc., in 1999. He moved the headquarters to Peachtree City, Georgia, and led the restructuring team in providing several straight quarters of profitability before he retired in May of 2004. Harris has dedicated his life and career to aviation. He has served as a board member of many organizations: Chairman of the Canada - Korea Business Council, the British - American Business Council, the Canada - U.S. Committee of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Business Council on National Issues, the Board of Governors of the International Air Transport Association, the Georgia Tech National Advisory Board, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and the Air Advisory Board of GATX Capital Corporation. Harris is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 2004, he was inducted into the Georgia Tech College of Engineering Hall of Fame. In addition to an Aeronautical Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech, Harris has an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Pepperdine University.
In recognition of his distinguished contributions to the field of aviation, Hollis L. Harris was enshrined into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame on April 23, 2005