Scott Mayerowitz reports that Delta CEO Richard Anderson will retire in May, to be replaced by airline President Ed Bastian.
Anderson was CEO of Northwest. As CEO of Delta he acquired Northwest. The airline made the merger successful. They made their operation successful. And through it all they always looked out for number one, themselves.
Delta’s Richard Anderson
Given that Delta has in my view:
- run an excellent operational airline
- while treating customers and partners with disdain
You might think I’d be happy to see the CEO leave.
However it also means that the airline’s chief revenue officer Glen Hauenstein, probably most directly responsible for the demise of SkyMiles, becomes airline president. Remember that they:
- Make material changes to program terms and don’t tell members
- Removed award charts from their website and have been unwilling to give a straight story as to why.
- Overcharge members for awards with broken technology that they appear not even to try to fix (a feature, not a bug?)
- Not only make changes to their program and award pricing without notice, but have the gall to claim unlike every other carrier that they are legally required to do so.
They’re elevating the man who effectively declared the end of upgrades. No frequent flyer can be excited by that.
And the legacy of Richard Anderson is… mixed. He led his airline to profitability and to the status of most-admired among his US peers.
However Anderson blamed the big Gulf airlines for 9/11 (when Delta partners with Saudia, whose government was at least complicit in the attacks). He did this because he wanted to make lower airfares illegal. The 9/11 comment should go on his tombstone, like the late Marion Barry’s line about the woman with whom he was videotaped smoking crack.
Loyalty used to matter to Delta. What they’ve come to now, though, is a character issue as much as a business or rewards decision. You know there’s a problem when the airline won’t claim to be honest and its partners won’t claim the points are retaining their value. And so I’m not sad to see their CEO leave at age 61.
Anderson claimed offloading his airline’s pensions on the federal government wasn’t a subsidy. They may not cancel many flights anymore, but he shouldn’t be entirely proud of his tenure either. foisting one of the largest obligations ever on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
He’ll be a controversial figure for a long time in the industry. But he’ll have a lifetime of free flights to take him to meetings of Conquistadores del Cielo. It will be interesting to see what he does next, since he retires at age 61. Regardless, the Anderson era is far from over at Delta.