Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines: Restoring Confidence in Air Travel

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Over the decades, the airline industry has had to grapple with the aftermath of several historical crises, including the Gulf War, 9/11, and the Great Recession. But none has unleashed as much economic devastation and created more uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic. Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, calls it “the defining crisis of our generation.” To get through the early days of the pandemic, he knew the company had to move quickly and, above all else, protect the health and wellbeing of Delta’s employees and customers. His guiding principle: a crisis doesn’t build character, it reveals it. Bastian joins the podcast to give an inside look into how Delta is overcoming this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, the changes it’s making to give customers peace of mind about flying again, and his outlook for the future of air travel in the years ahead.

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • Why safety protocols like keeping the middle seat empty give customers peace of mind and are an extension of the premium nature of Delta’s brand
  • Why Bastian proudly says, “We’ve never worked harder to accomplish so little yet achieve so much”
  • What early booking data is suggesting about people’s confidence to travel again
  • How a societal void in leadership has altered the role of CEO — and why business leaders can no longer afford to sit on the political sidelines
  • Whether international travel alliances will weaken or strengthen post-pandemic
  • Why Delta remains committed to a sustainable future, spending $1 billion over the next 10 years to become the world’s first carbon-neutral airline