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Richard H. Anderson

Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Delta CEO names top leadership after merger

  • Article by: LIZ FEDOR
  • Star Tribune
  • July 15, 2008 - 10:50 PM

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson drew heavily Tuesday from the ranks of Northwest management when he named the officers who will lead the new Delta.

Anderson, who will head the combined carrier, tapped four Delta executives and four from Northwest to join him on the airline's top management team, the company announced.

Anderson chose many of Northwest's top women executives. But of Northwest's top four executives, only one -- Chief Financial Officer Dave Davis -- was named a Delta officer.

The balanced treatment goes beyond that. The top 60 executives were drawn almost equally from the management of the two carriers, according to a document obtained Tuesday by the Star Tribune.

Federal regulators are expected to approve the merger later this year. At that time, Northwest CEO Doug Steenland will leave the carrier and turn over leadership of Northwest to Delta President Ed Bastian and join Delta's board. Northwest will operate as an Eagan-based subsidiary of Delta for 12 to 24 months, with its own revenue and cost structures, while the two carriers move toward a complete merger.

However, the day the merger deal closes, Delta management intends to combine several functions quickly, including legal, finance and human resources.

Anderson, who served as Northwest CEO from 2001 to 2004, chose to name his officers for the new Delta now, so the carrier can move as rapidly as possible to put the merger into effect.

With high oil prices, Anderson said, "It is clear we were smart to proceed when we did, because this merger will provide the necessary revenue and cost synergies to better position the combined carrier for success."

Mike Becker, Northwest's senior vice president of human resources and labor relations, will be promoted to executive vice president and serve as Northwest's chief operating officer.

Ben Hirst, now Northwest's general counsel, will be general counsel for the new Delta. Laura Liu, Northwest's senior vice president of the international business, and Theresa Wise, Northwest's chief information officer, also will retain their posts.

Mike Campbell, Delta's executive vice president of human resources, labor and communications, and Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president of network planning and revenue management, will keep those key positions with the merged Delta. Rounding out the top leadership is Steve Gorman, Delta's executive vice president of operations who worked for Anderson at Northwest.

Twenty-seven Northwest executives will become Delta officers on Day 1 of the merger. Ken Hylander, a Northwest senior vice president and the chief safety officer, will have the top safety job at Delta.

Some executives initially will have roles with the Northwest subsidiary, and then will move to new jobs with the merged Delta. Northwest senior vice presidents named Delta officers, and their current titles:

• Andrea Fischer Newman, government affairs

• Crystal Knotek, ground operations and customer service

• Julie Showers, inflight services

• Jim Cron, marketing and distribution

• Bill Lentsch, flight operations

• Kris Bauer, technical operations

About 30 Delta and Northwest officers won't have jobs in the merged carrier. They are retiring, decided to leave or weren't offered jobs in the new company. Executive vice presidents Tim Griffin, who oversees marketing and distribution, and Andy Roberts, operations chief, will not have roles in the new Delta.

Liz Fedor • 612-673-7709

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