Isakson, other voices on Delta CEO Richard Anderson’s retirement

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080819 -- Atlanta, Ga. (CQ) Richard Anderson, 52, is CEO of Delta Air Lines, as of September 1, 2007 and has overseen major cutbacks at the carrier, led a continued international expansion and announced a merger with Northwest Airlines. Portraits of Anderson at Delta's Heritage Museum Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Photo by Vino Wong / vwong@ajc.com

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson’s announcement that he is retiring after nine years at the head of the Atlanta-based carrier generated talk in metro Atlanta and around the nation. Here’s a look at what people had to say:

“Nine years is a long time in this job, especially given that he was CEO of Northwest before that. When you look at the cumulative period of time he served, it’s a tough job, there are a lot of demands on the job, and hats off to him to have the endurance to go through it for that extended period of time. I think he made a personal decision that he was not going to spend his entire life as CEO and he wanted to add more color to his world.” —Ed Bastian, incoming Delta CEO and current Delta president

On Anderson taking the role of executive chairman after his retirement: “Richard is also a relatively young man and I think Delta means a great, great deal to him, so I just couldn’t see him walking away from the airline entirely.” —Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst, Atmosphere Research Group

Video of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson speaking about Anderson on the Senate floor on Monday June 8:

Anderson “is a passionate booster for Atlanta and cares deeply that all people have the chance to make their marks here.” —Hala Moddelmog, Metro Atlanta Chamber president & CEO.

On Anderson’s tough negotiating tactics: “I think that his approach is collaborative until it gets to the part of negotiations that really matter…. The first meeting I ever had [with him] was in [my] office at City Hall. Both of us have very forceful personalities and we spoke to each other in a very candid manner. When we walked out, he said, ‘Are you OK?’ I said, ‘I’m fine.’ And I said, ‘Are you OK? He said, ‘I’m fine.’ And we laughed and said we’re both going to get along. And I will tell you, it was an awful meeting. We were talking about the cost of the international terminal.” —Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

“Airlines for America wishes Richard Anderson well in his retirement.” —Airlines for America, the airline industry group that Delta abruptly split from last year.

“Richard has created a lot of jobs and I am sure if he wasn’t running Delta he would be an advocate for our project.” —Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Investments, who is seeking to commercialize the Paulding County airport as a second airport in metro Atlanta with airline service. Anderson has vigorously opposed Smith’s plan to commercialize the Paulding airport and the idea of any second airport in metro Atlanta, with no signs of a change in position.

On Anderson serving on committees for the city of Atlanta, dealing with pension reform and the Atlanta Committee for Progress: “Richard would be the first one there and he would be the last one to leave. He’s not a person who uses the significance of his position to ever get out of doing their fair share of the work. —Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

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Delta CEO Richard Anderson. Photo by Vino Wong / vwong@ajc.com

“I have no particular plans other than to spend a lot of time with [wife] Sue, and finally learn to wade fish in Galveston Bay.” —Richard Anderson, in a memo to employees on his retirement.

More on Delta’s CEO changeover on myAJC.com…

On Anderson’s tenure at Delta and the executive changeover: Delta CEO departing, successor named

For details on incoming CEO Ed Bastian’s plans for Delta: Delta’s ‘next man up’ aims for upside

To read about the challenges and opportunities that face Delta in the future: Delta’s rising CEO inherits strong profits, big issue


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