The AP recently published an interesting interview with Delta CEO Richard Anderson and Delta President Ed Bastian. The interview covers a range of topics including Delta’s growth over the last few years, customer service, the TSA, purchasing oil refineries, “winning in New York”, low-cost carrier competition, and more. It’s a good read, check it out here – How management ‘pack’ revived Delta Air Lines.
Some of the more interesting quotes:
ANDERSON: We put a flat tire rule in place, for someone that misses their flight. (The rule allows customer service workers to waive a change fee and get passengers on the next flight if they were delayed by something unforeseen, like a flat tire.) We put a lot more discretion in our front-line employees. We brought back redcoats. Delta was always famous for the redcoats, who were the senior airport customer service agents who were there to solve problems on the spot.
ANDERSON on TSA:We’re the third biggest industry in the U.S., after agriculture and oil. So if we want economic development and economic growth, and we want this city full of people traveling here, we need to let people know that you’re never going to have more than a 15-minute wait in security. One of the key ways to get there is with PreCheck (the government’s pre-screening system). Our ultimate goal needs to be 75 to 80 percent PreCheck. It’s going to be a matter of using the data. It’s amazing how much information is out there. If you go to a normal consumer data company like Axiom or Nexis or Equifax, they have massive databases with scoring technologies. And so I think it’s a matter of taking the kind of technology that we have in the financial world and bringing that to bear at the security checkpoint.
ANDERSON on Oil: Well, we actually first started looking at buying an oil company. We didn’t have one picked out. You’ve got to take control over every aspect of your business. You can’t let any of your suppliers dictate the way the refiners were dictating to us. Our business model has to capture the full cost of fuel, but when it’s $12 billion, you’ve got to invest and figure out how you’re going to keep that cost under your control. We talked about oil companies, we talked about refineries. It took us a couple of years, but then this one came on the market for the price of a 787.