Delta Air Lines president Ed Bastian succeeded Richard Anderson as CEO on Monday. A change in leadership style seems likely, but not a major shift in direction.
Speaking at a media gathering in Atlanta last week, Bastian called Anderson a “close friend and close partner” and said they had worked together on “every significant decision” made by Delta over Anderson’s nearly nine years leading the carrier. While Bastian has his own priorities, such as keeping Delta’s brand and technology fresh and continuing to steer marketing to Millennials, he added that Anderson, now chairman of Delta’s board of directors, also will continue to have a presence in those decisions. “We have different personalities—I come from the financial and analytical side—but think alike in the main areas, and he’s still my boss,” Bastian said. “We talk two or three times a week.”
Bastian takes the reins of a company with both strong financial health and a strong operational record. Delta’s profit per seat is 10 percent higher than its competition’s average, Bastian said. And through the first four months of the year, Delta has completed all mainline flights on 68 days. That’s 30 more than this time last year and more than twice as many as all its major competitors combined this year, he said.