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Carroll School of Management

ceo2017-03-09

Edward H. Bastian

Chief Executive Officer, Delta Air Lines  

"A Conversation with Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer, Edward Bastian"

Edward Bastian, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, sat down with C Space Chairman Diane Hessan at the March 9 meeting of the Boston College Chief Executives Club. Bastian, who joined the airline as a vice president of finance in 1998 and became CEO last May, talked about bringing the six-billion-dollar company back from bankruptcy, Delta’s employee profit-sharing plan, the importance of airport infrastructure, and improving the air travel experience. "Fare is always going to be important, but quality of service is to us the most important attribute on which to compete," Bastian said. Millennials, he pointed out, now make up 35 percent of Delta’s customer base. "They're a generation that values experiences rather than owning things. So we think our industry is the perfect industry for that," he said. "They value transparency. They value quality. They want to be connected. We’re spending an awful lot of time trying to get people connected in the sky."

TAKEAWAYS

"The one thing I will say about the president that I drew from the meeting was the message he was sending to us and to me was that I want you to tell the politicians what they need to do, rather than the politicians telling you what you need to do to work for them—to make them successful. He’s flipped it on its head. Whether this model works or not … who knows? But he’s trying to run the country like a business … And he’s surrounding himself with some really smart businesspeople who are accomplished and skilled in their own right." Transcript and Video about Meeting President Trump

"Supersonic travel or flying into space or flying self-driving—I mean that’s probably going to happen, but it’s so far off because the price point you’re going to need to make people want to actually accommodate it—we’re partners with Richard Branson. Branson has Virgin Galactic as one of its things … I think he’s got about 1,000 people already have made deposits to go into space. But those deposits are $250,000 a person. That’s not a model that’s going to challenge our industry anytime soon." Transcript and Video about Future Air Travel

"We instituted a profit-sharing plan when we went through the hard times, because we had to take pay cuts and make some adjustments. And we told them [Delta employees] that once we got this thing sorted out again, our employees would be the first to participate in our success. So from first dollar of profits, 15% of the profits go back to the employees of Delta Airlines … we distributed $1.1 billion to the employees … And it’s the third year in a row we’ve been over $1 billion of profit sharing." Transcript and Video about Profit Sharing

PRESS COVERAGE

Boston Business Journal
"Delta CEO on Trump, flying cars and the future of Logan"

Boston Herald, Business
"Delta CEO: Airlines should all fly fair"

Reuters
"Delta's CEO sounds optimistic note for 2017; hopes to meet Buffett"

 

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