Edward Bastian to Succeed Richard Anderson as Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines

Richard Anderson and Edward Bastian Delta Air Lines

Richard H. Anderson has chosen to retire as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, Incorporated effective as of Monday, May 2, 2016 and will be elevated to the position of executive chairman of the board of directors of the airline, according to this official announcement which was released yesterday; and “this succession plan has been several years in the making and will keep Delta on top of the global industry,” said Dan Carp, who is the current non-executive chairman of the board but will step down and remain on the board.

Edward Bastian to Succeed Richard Anderson as Chief Executive Officer

Ed Bastian — who is the current president of Delta Air Lines — will be appointed chief executive officer of the airline effective as of Monday, May 2, 2016. Ed joined Delta Air Lines in 1998 as its vice president of finance and controller; and was promoted to the position of senior vice president in 2000. He left Delta Air Lines in early 2005 to become the senior vice president and chief financial officer of Acuity Brands; but he returned to Delta Air Lines in July of 2005.

The commercial aviation career of Richard Anderson began in 1987 at Continental Airlines before he was employed at Northwest Airlines for 14 years — during which he progressed to its chief executive officer from 2001 to 2004. Richard Anderson joined as a member of the board of directors of Delta Air Lines in April of 2007 — the month when Delta Air Lines emerged from bankruptcy protection — and in September of 2007, he joined Delta Air Lines from United Health Group to become its chief executive officer, succeeding Gerald Grinstein.

Other Executive Appointments

Glen Hauenstein — who is the current executive vice president of the airline — will be appointed its president effective as of Monday, May 2, 2016; and Frank Blake — a current director at Delta Air Lines — will be appointed lead director of the board of directors of the airline on the same day. Meanwhile, Gil West is promoted immediately to senior executive vice president and chief operating officer. Also effective immediately, Steve Sear is appointed as the president of international and executive vice president of global sales, leading the Atlantic, Asia-Pacific and Latin America organizations in addition to global sales.

Summary

Steven Klamon Brian Cohen and Richard Anderson
From left to right: Steven Klamon, Brian Cohen and Richard Anderson at the auditorium of the training center at the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines just prior to Richard speaking to approximately 200 frequent fliers of Delta Air Lines in attendance on the first of four days of the 2010 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event. Photograph courtesy of Greg Johnston.

Despite some questionable gaffes — such as when he said “And it’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that, given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula” during a live televised interview — and despite a number of significant changes which adversely affected members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, Richard Anderson has served Delta Air Lines well as a strong leader, as he led the airline towards enjoying consecutive quarters of record profits in recent years. He retires from his position as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines arguably at the apex of his career.

With his years of experience, Ed Bastian seems like a fine choice to take over as chief executive officer of the airline. Expect the profitability to continue for the time being; but do not expect the decimation of the benefits once enjoyed by members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program to be reversed anytime soon — if at all — as that occurred under the leadership of Glen Hauenstein.

Photographs of Richard Anderson and Edward Bastian ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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