Delta lease OK’d, but emotions steal show

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It was an airport lease-signing ceremony, but it turned into something more Wednesday for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and departing Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson.

Both found themselves reflecting on deeper issues than the lease — and fighting back tears — as they inked a 20-year deal that renews the terms of Delta’s massive operation at the city-owned Atlanta airport.

Reed, who has been close to Anderson throughout his term as mayor, recalled that when he was new to the office, “Whenever I needed to call on somebody for advice, Delta’s support or something that was important to the city of Atlanta, Richard Anderson always took my call.”


Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dabs a tear while speaking about Delta CEO Richard Anderson. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

“Richard Anderson has been one of the most consequential leaders in the life of the City of Atlanta,” Reed continued, his voice breaking. “When history catches its breath, his name will be right among folks like Mills Lane, Robert Woodruff, Robert Goizueta, Ted Turner and others.”

Richard crying

Richard Anderson gets emotional at the lectern.  HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Anderson, after dabbing his eyes on the lapel of his cream-colored suit jacket, joked: “If I had the power to do one thing today, I think I’d name the airport the Hartsfield-Jackson-Reed” International Airport.

To read more about the retirement of Delta’s CEO, and to find out what the lease deal will mean for the world’s busiest airport and the millions of passengers that pass through every year, get the full story on


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