Delta Announces Ed Bastian as Retiring CEO Richard Anderson’s Replacement
Last week, Delta announced CEO Richard Anderson’s plans to retire. One of my first thoughts was, “What impact will this have on myself and other Delta frequent flyers?”
A Texas native, Richard Anderson assumed the helm at Delta in 2007 following its emergence from bankruptcy. Anderson oversaw Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines, pushed forward Delta’s joint venture with Air France and KLM, and, in 2012, negotiated Delta’s purchase of a 49% stake in Heathrow-based Virgin Atlantic. Under his tenure, Delta also bought an oil refinery to manage fuel prices and continues to be opposed to privatization of air traffic control in the United States.
Ed Bastian, Delta’s current president will replace Anderson. Bastian has been, for the most part, with Delta since 1998, previously serving in the financial department and as CFO.
According to the Associated Press (LINK), Bastian wants to invest internationally, improve regional service, and encourage passengers to choose Delta because of experience, not price.
This last part really stands out to me. Many passengers are price-point sensitive. As the legacy carriers continue to gut their frequent flyer programs, leaning more heavily on spend over time spent in the air, this begs the question – will historically loyal travelers base their decision on price or experience going forward? Or a mix of both? I’d guess a mix…
Bastian has been part of the Delta executive team for a long time and has been around during of the recent transitions of the Medallion loyalty program. We’ve seen the introduction of spend requirements for US-based travelers, redeemable mileage earning based on spend, and the ongoing monetization of first class upgrades. Rumors persist that Medallions will see the loss of domestic US complimentary upgrades from economy to first class – will this evolve solely into upgrades from Main Cabin to Comfort+? I do not have a crystal ball nor insider information, but I suspect Delta will chose to do whatever best serves the bottom line. (Also see : “Not resting on our laurels”: A discussion with Ed Bastian )
Apart from the Medallion program, it remains to be seen how Bastian will handle ongoing concerns with the ME3, the relationship with SkyTeam and other partner airlines, air treaty negotiations between Japan and the USA, as well as any unforeseen crises in the always changing and evolving world of commercial aviation.
Airways News : ANALYSIS: What Will Change for Delta Under Ed Bastian?
and some blogger commentary:
Gary Leff (View From The Wing) “I Want to Be Happy That Delta’s CEO is Retiring. Here’s Why it Makes Things Worse.”
René (RenesPoints.com) “Musing over the executive changes at Delta Air Lines. Richard, Ed and Glen. What impact on us?”
Images Courtesy of Delta NEWS HUB