Breaking: Delta CEO Richard Anderson To Retire

Filed Under: Delta

Via Scott Mayerowitz at the Associated Press, Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson, will be retiring on May 2, 2016, which is the day he turns 61. The airline’s president, Ed Bastian, will be taking over as CEO. Meanwhile Glen Hauenstein, the airline’s executive vice president, will be appointed president.

Richard Anderson

There’s no denying that Richard Anderson has done an amazing job leading Delta since 2007, when the airline had just exited bankruptcy protection. He was in charge when Delta merged with Northwest, when Delta bought a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, etc. Delta has transformed into one of the most admired and profitable airlines in the world, and Richard Anderson has been in charge all along.

He hasn’t just been a conventional leader either. Under his leadership, Delta has countered so many industry trends which other airlines have followed. And for that he deserves a lot of respect.

At the same, I’ve never seen someone running such a successful company also have such a victim mentality. Whether it’s whining about the Gulf carriers or slots at Haneda Airport, Anderson has been singularly focused on the success of his airline (which in and of itself is fine), and he has considered anything standing in the way of that goal to be unfair. It just seems a bit disingenuous to play the victim mentality when you’re running the world’s most profitable airline… that’s all.

Bottom line

It’s the results that count, and there’s no denying that Richard Anderson has been an amazing CEO. Delta is a leading global carrier and a role model other airlines look to, and he’s certainly leaving on a high note. Ed Bastian is brilliant as well, and I’m sure he’ll do great things for Delta. Based on having heard Ed Bastian speak a couple of times, he also seems a bit more soft spoken and reasonable, which I think will be good for the airline.

Kudos to Richard Anderson on an amazing career — he’s certainly leaving on better terms than than Jeff Smisek left United.

Now I’m just wondering if Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, will be invited to Richard Anderson’s retirement party. 😉

What do you make of Richard Anderson’s retirement — are you happy or sad to see him go?

  1. AAB gets invited to the retirement party to give a speech. “We beat you, our five star airline would always be better than this Delta thing you speak of”.

  2. don’t forget, he made the ridiculous move of buying a refinery too. while strategically it seemed to make sense, in this world of cheap fuel, that’s got to be looking like a dumb waste of money.

  3. Richard Anderson has the following tenure with respect to airline loyalty programs. He introduced the concept of revenue(i.e. spending ) requirements for US resident domestic flyers. United followed, but they did not allow an exemption via credit card spending for 1K status. Then Delta implemented the ultimate devaluation of awarding redeemable miles by changing from a distance based program to a dollar per points based scheme, which results in many flyers earning 40 to 60 percent fewer miles for purchased tickets. Under the revenue based scheme(RBS), one has to spend a minimum of 20 cents per redeemable mile to earn an equivalent under the former loyalty program. United Airlines, under the tenure of CEO Jeff $mi$ek, copied this from Delta as well, yet United did not offer Delta’s quality of product or their operational reliability.

    Now the last distance based loyalty program, American Airlines, has also announced their intentions to change to a similar revenue based program. And they reduced the number of SWUs awarded to Executive Platinums from 8 to 4.

    The previous distance based airline loyalty programs no longer exist. If a RBS program is to award an equivalent amount of redeemable miles, then it would award 20 points per $1, 17.5 per $1, 15 per $1, and 12.5 per $1 for the various elite status levels.

  4. There is no denying that Richard Anderson did a commendable job of steering Delta Air Lines out of some tough times. Often his enthusiasm for the airline and his goals crossed the lines between confidence and arrogance. We can only hope that with the many things ahead on Ed Bastian’s agenda (pilot contracts, flight attendants unionizing?, concerns over Haneda, the GCC issues, investment in a government-majority owned airline MU, going to another economy branded fare class ‘W’ and bailing Top Elites) that this would present an opportunity for many Medallion members to raise their voices and be heard.

    Richard is considerate and sincere, if not hardheaded in his own beliefs…sometimes his own worst enemy.

    I wish Richard the best; knew him before airlines were ever on his career path….

  5. “…..he has considered anything standing in the way of that goal to be unfair.”

    he sounds like the quintessential teabagger republican. “I WANT MY WAY, NO COMPROMISE! MY WAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY”




    He IS a teabagger republican!

  6. @ FakeKeeper

    …and you’re a pablum-puking liberal who lies a lot. I didn’t know this was a political blog. Comments like that should be kept to yourself. Besides being untrue (for the most part), they are also vulgar and crude.

  7. @ alf55555 — Not to get too far off target, but refining margins (and thus the profitability of Delta’s refinery) have little to do with the price of crude oil. Refinery profitability depends largely on the “crack spread” between crude and refined petroleum prices. For the most part, refining has been the one recent bright spot in the oil industry.

  8. @alf55555 – Yeah stupid, right…until the price goes up again.

    @Realkeeper – Wonder who has the real problem here buddy? BTW its not a political blog, troll.

    Love him or hate him, you can’t say that he didn’t care about his business, and he made it profitable for the shareholders. Isn’t that what a CEO is supposed to do?

  9. Few people in the US know that Lufthansa started the revenue based program more than 3 years ago when the started awarding milesandmore miles based on ticket class… cheapest tickets = less miles. Delta copied the concept, expanded it and brought it to the US. The credit I give to delta is applying and expanding the revenue based program (making tons $$$$) but not for innovating!!!

  10. They created much cheaper economy and business tickets that earned 50 to 75% less than most tickets in the same class service. Had to spend more to earn more.

  11. @RealKeeper
    You could not be more wrong regarding Richard Anderson being anti-gay. He has promoted gay rights both at Delta and in Georgia.

  12. He does done an Outstanding Job as CEO of Delta, making it without question, the highest quality US legacy carrier, and the most Profitable as well.

  13. My friends have met him on Delta flights and on those regional flights, he always sat on the exit row (thus giving the F seat he would have gotten to one of the Delta elites.)
    It’s not easy to be CEO but even if he may have the victim mentality in certain cases, all in all he led Delta to prosperity. In addition to the numbers, I always assess an airline on employee satisfaction and to me, most if not all Delta employees I’ve interacted with love the airline. That’s certainly hard to do after a merger. Kudos to him.

  14. @RealKeeper, I am not going to get into a political debate, but I will say only that you simply do not understand what the views of the Tea Party movement are. You are free to disagree but your characterization is not even remotely accurate.

    I will generally agree with Lucky’s assessment of Anderson’s tenure. He has done wonders with Delta, especially given the period early in his tenure. I will disagree that he has a victim mentality. His responsibility is to look out for Delta and its shareholder first and foremost. To that degree he is supposed to compete fiercely. Whether he thinks that is fair or unfair is not really the point. As I have blogged and commented here, I think Delta raises some fair points about the competition of the Middle East big three. ( Are all his points correct? Not necessarily, but they are not necessarily incorrect or a manifestation of victimhood to the degree that he has some points that merit consideration.

    That being said, I do not agree with the use of government to interfere with competitors except where there is a truly uneven playing field. If his points ultimately are found to not hold water, despite my fondness for Delta as an Atlantan, I would 100% oppose leveraging the power of government to distort free market operations. I simply disagree that his and Delta’s claim are without merit.

  15. I look forward to learn what Mr Bastian’s vision will be. Hopefully, he will address the egregious fares that we suffer in the Metro Detroit area. As they operate about 85% of the flights out of Detroit we are never able to take advantage of the air promotion fares offered in other markets. I believe that we have the highest fares for a Delta hub anywhere. Up until this year my husband and I were Platinum Medallion flyers however as retirees we just could not keep up with all the changing requirements. If you use your miles they give you the worse routing. As we have traveled throughout the world, the Sky Club at Metro is one of the worst clubs we have ever been in. Meager offerings of almost nothing. Really pathetic.

  16. Maybe they’ll give him a gold-plated, but clapped-out, old Hummer as a retirement gift– to honor all the CO2-spewing gas guzzlers that were his signature addition to the DL fleet.

    Don’t worry, though, they’ll re-do the interior so as to take his mind off the fact that he’s traveling in a design conceived when LBJ was in office. Just like those DC9s that dominate the Delta fleet today…

  17. No doubt that Anderson has done a great job at Delta, though as a diamond member since inception and years of platinum before that, I long for a return to the Mullin/Coggin days. Guess I’m too selfish.

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