Delta Chairman and ex-CEO, Richard Anderson, has stepped down as Executive Chairman of Delta’s Board of Directors. Delta broke this news via a press release just a few hours ago, and this seems to be a pretty unexpected move. Anderson first joined the board in April 2007, before his appointment as CEO just a few months later. After his retirement as CEO in May 2016, he was elevated as Executive Chairman of the board.
He might be outspoken at times, especially regarding the Open Skies agreement. However, there is no question that Anderson ran a tight ship at Delta. Many Delta employees hold Anderson in high regard, in part because of his humanity. Anderson inherited his position as Delta was coming out of bankruptcy, and Delta became highly profitable under his leadership. They also achieved a reputation of reliable operations, and became the “airline that everyone copied” regarding loyalty programs.
Anderson will be succeeded by Francis S. “Frank” Blake, who has been lead director of the board since May 2016. Blake said:
Under Richard’s leadership, Delta people established themselves as leaders in reliability, customer service and financial performance. His years of service to Delta established a legacy of unmatched dedication to our customers, employees, investors and the communities we serve. He is one of the great leaders in global aviation, and we wish him well.
This is a bit of a shocker, considering Anderson hasn’t been in his current position for too long. At age 61, this would also be considered a pretty early retirement. I hope this is a natural end of his career that simply came without prior rumors, and not due to health or other personal reasons. Perhaps there are internal turmoil that led to his departure, but that’s anyone’s guess at this point.
Regardless, I wish him all the best. As I’ve mentioned, while I might not be a fan of Delta’s loyalty program, I have tremendous respect for their operations. Ultimately, an airline, that’s of utmost importance.