Aug. 3

The Path Forward: The Airline Industry with Delta CEO Ed Bastian

With more than 80 percent of travel at a near standstill, airlines are adapting to a new reality. As some push for a return to business as usual, Delta Air Lines has continued to block middle seats, cap plane capacity and ban passengers who refuse to wear masks. CEO Ed Bastian will joined Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Monday, Aug. 3 at 11:30 a.m. ET to discuss the airline’s commitment to safety despite economic uncertainty, its program for ongoing, company-wide testing and what travel will look like in the future.
Highlights
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says the airline will continue to enforce its mask mandate, even if the federal government doesn’t make a regulation. So far, Delta has placed about 130 people who have refused to wear masks on a no-fly list. “We’re going to make certain that we enforce it even if the federal government doesn’t give us the back-up to put a regulation in place.”
  • Aug 3
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says he thinks the country’s economic recovery is still stalled, but there has been some progress. “Today, we’re flying about 50 percent of the flights that we flew this time a year ago, with about 25 percent of the people…while it’s picked up a little bit...I’d say the recovery is still largely stalled...People are out, heading to the mountain states…Salt Lake City is one of our hubs and we’re operating at probably 50 to 60 percent of prior year levels as compared to the Northeast where that number is still down to the 10 percent level.”
  • Aug 3
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian says the pandemic has helped them expedite the retirement of some of its airplanes, a process that would’ve ordinarily taken about five years. “We’ve already announced the retirement of over 100 airplanes this year alone, the MD-88 fleet, the MD-90 fleet, our Triple Seven fleet…And, we’re moving to the new Airbus A321neo platform…It would have taken us probably about five years to get to this point of fleet simplicity and efficiency in the old world as travel was in high demand.”
  • Aug 3
Delta CEO Ed Bastian says the airline industry will be smaller post-pandemic but “more resilient”, as technology and consumer behaviors have changed demand and the way people do business. He adds there has been an increase demand for leisure travel, but international restrictions limit where the company can fly. ‘People do want to get out. There’s certainly a pent-up, cabin fever that we’re seeing.’
  • Aug 3
Delta Air Lines warned a portion of its pilots last month that they could be furloughed after Oct. 1. CEO Ed Bastian says the company is doing everything it can to reduce the impact, including offering a voluntary early retirement program. “Given that we are overstaffed with our pilots, as well as the other work groups, we’re doing everything we can on a voluntary basis to reduce the potential impact…On a voluntary means we’re a 20 percent smaller company this month than we were just last month alone…We’re working with the union and hopefully we can get to a good accommodation there.”
  • Aug 3
Ed Bastian
CEO, Delta Air Lines
As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 90,000 global professionals that is building the world’s premier international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation. A 20-year Delta veteran, Ed has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision. Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed has expanded Delta’s leading position as the world’s most reliable airline while growing its global footprint and enhancing the customer experience in the air and on the ground. During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; Fortune’s most admired airline worldwide; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; a Glassdoor Employee’s Choice company and more. Delta has returned to sustained profitability, regaining its investment-grade credit rating with all three major ratings agencies and paying out more than $1 billion in profit-sharing to employees every year over the past four years. In 2018, Fortune magazine named Ed among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. When asked to sum up his job in five words, Ed’s response is: “Taking care of our people.” The answer reflects his leadership philosophy, which is based on the “virtuous circle” – if you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, whose business and loyalty allows you to reward your investors. Ed joined Delta in 1998 as Vice President – Finance and Controller and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer, and in 2007 was appointed to serve as Delta’s President.
David Ignatius
The Washington Post
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