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More Travelocity execs say bon voyage

In the wake of a takeover by Sabre Holdings, five top Travelocity.com executives--including CEO Terry Jones--announce that they are leaving the company.

In the wake of a takeover by Sabre Holdings, five top Travelocity.com executives--including Chief Executive Terry Jones--announced Tuesday that they are leaving the company.

Jones announced his retirement Tuesday morning. The departures of Travelocity's Chief Financial Officer Ramesh Punwani, General Counsel Andy Steinberg and Executive Vice President Jim Marsicano were announced to the company's staff in an afternoon meeting. Also leaving is Jim Hornthal, the company's vice chairman, who had been working part-time since the sale to Sabre.

The mass exodus comes just weeks after Sabre Holdings acquired Travelocity following a contentious takeover battle. When the acquisition was finalized last month, Sabre welcomed Travelocity's executive staff with open arms, saying that it had no plans to make any changes to the company's management.

In a letter to employees, Jones said that each of the executives was leaving for personal reasons.

"It may look ironic to see these colleagues leave us so soon after the Sabre buyback," Jones wrote. "While I can't say that the buyback had nothing to do with their decisions, their decisions were made on their own."

Sabre spokesman Michael Berman said that while Sabre wanted the management team to stay on, their roles were expected to change since Travelocity was no longer a public company.

Jones said Punwani, Steinberg and Marsicano planned to leave over the next three months.

Sabre is replacing Jones with Sam Gilliland, Sabre's chief marketing officer and a former Travelocity board member, according to a Travelocity representative. Gilliland will name replacements for the other executives in coming weeks, Berman said.

Jones' departure Monday was not unexpected. After Southlake, Texas-based Sabre bought Travelocity, industry analysts speculated that Jones would be unlikely to stay long at the helm of a private company.

Jones is leaving during a tumultuous period for the Fort Worth, Texas-based company. Expedia recently unseated Travelocity as the largest Web travel agency. Before it was purchased, Travelocity's shares were trading around $27, while Expedia's shares have recently topped the $80 mark.

Both companies are also trying to fend off Orbitz, the third-largest travel site, which is backed by five major airlines.

Sabre investors initially fought Sabre's acquisition of Travelocity. Sabre's first offer of $23 a share was rejected by Travelocity's board, but the two companies settled shortly afterward for $28 a share.

"I guess Terry figured that he'd done all he could, and it was time for something new," said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst who covers online travel for research group Forrester Research.

Others, who asked not to be named, speculated about the kind of company Travelocity would be without Jones, one of the pioneers in the online travel sector.

Sabre "needs him because he understands online travel and the technology like nobody else at Sabre," said a source close to the company.

Before founding Travelocity in March 1996, Jones worked at Sabre for 24 years, heading the company's technology department.