Ed Bastian

Delta Air Lines CEO

Read Official Bio

What's the Biggest Mistake New Bosses Make?

I see first-time managers get bogged down in the details. They feel the responsibility to make all the decisions themselves. And they don't delegate, or they don't trust the decision-making. So I'd say that's probably…

Running Time: 0:15

If You Could Accomplish Only One Thing as CEO, What Would It Be?

The one thing that I want Delta to be seen for over my tenure is...someone that helped make the company the airline of that next generation.

Running Time: 0:11

What's Your Morning Routine?

I always have to have my cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I just don't function without a cup of coffee. So when I get out of bed, that's the first thing I…

Running Time: 0:55

What Advice Would You Give a First-Time Manager?

I would say the thing I focus most on with our first-time managers is their communication skills. Communicating to their team members, and remembering that it's about the team, and keeping a bigger focus rather than…

Running Time: 0:39

Is Office Politics Inevitable?

Office politics, I think it's, you know, there's an element of that that's human behavior. Delta, we have 80,000 employees, so it's a big enterprise, and there's a lot of interactions that we go through,…

Running Time: 0:32

What Do You Splurge on in Your Business That's Worth It?

For us, it's investing in our people. We have the best paid-people in our industry. We put a profit-sharing plan in 10 years ago at Delta, when we were in difficult times, that we promised…

Running Time: 0:42

How Do You Get Work Done While You Travel?

I'm always on my email, or texting, or, you know, we have wi-fi in the sky, so I'm connected at all times. I get a lot of information coming at me quickly, and you just…

Running Time: 0:19

How Do You Make a Positive First Impression on Your Team?

The most important thing that a new manager can do is make certain that the team feels that the promotion of the manager is a direct reflection of the work of the team. That the…

Running Time: 0:45

How Do You Deal With Legacy Employees?

We have lots and lots and lots of employees who may be viewed as legacy or have been around here for many many years. I think you treat them with enormous respect, which is how…

Running Time: 0:35

Tell Us About a Mistake You Made and What You Learned

I'd say the times I've made the biggest mistakes is when I've not followed my instinct, and I've let someone talk me into something that I just wasn't settled with. I need to get comfortable…

Running Time: 0:50

How Do You Put Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes?

Well, one of the ways I do that is I travel as a customer on Delta. I don't have a fleet of private jets. I travel on our own airline. I don't skip the security…

Running Time: 0:35

How Do You Strike a Balance Between Speed and Accuracy in Your Company?

We never compromise when it comes to safety or security with respect to our customers or our employees. That said, when I'm business decision-making, I opt for speed over waiting to get to all the…

Running Time: 0:42

How Do You Overcome Indecision?

I force decision-making. I think inertia is a disease within corporations. It can grow quickly and it can slow down. It's referred to as bureaucracy. There's a lot of terms for it. Organizations need to…

Running Time: 0:21

Do You Have Any Tips for Managing Millennials?

I think the millennials look for a broader purpose than just their day job. Very different than some of the past generations. And certainly different than how I grew up. And they want to see…

Running Time: 1:17

What Role Does Instinct Play in Your Decision-Making Process?

Instinct is important. You have to be able to spot things. You can't wait 'til you get all the facts. You need to move forward. But it's trained, it's learned. It's experience rather than just...gut.

Running Time: 0:14

How Do You Manage People Remotely?

Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it keeps you current with what's going on, and people can reach you, and you can stay engaged 24/7. The downside is that there is no…

Running Time: 0:19

What Role Does Data Play in Your Decision-Making Process?

I think that's one of, been one of the most important things that's driven the success of Delta, is the caliber and the quality of the data that we're driving out of the operations. That…

Running Time: 0:42

How Do You Keep Morale up Through Tough Times?

Well, when times are tough, that's when leadership really shows. The best leaders are not those that show their skills in times of prosperity. It's really in times of adversity, because everyone's going to face them.…

Running Time: 1:16

What's a Sign Someone Is Ready for a Promotion?

Some of the signs for promotion for a team member are, first of all, that they do a very good job with the existing role they have. It's merit and it's earned. It's not just…

Running Time: 0:35

When Does It Make Sense to Take a Pay Cut?

Well, it never makes a lot of sense to take a pay cut when switching jobs, unless it's something that you really want to do, and something you really believe in. When I came back…

Running Time: 2:02

What Rituals Do You Perform Before a Stressful Task?

I'm not one for rituals, but I am always one for, again, remembering that this isn't about me; this is about something bigger. And when I do that, I realize I don't carry the stress…

Running Time: 0:25

What's the Smartest Way to Cut Costs?

The things not to cut when you're cutting cost, or to avoid when you're cutting cost, are things impacting your people and things impacting your service quality. So everything that is outside of that realm,…

Running Time: 0:29

How Do You Make Meetings More Effective?

Meetings will go as fast or slow as you let them. I never like to block more than an hour for a meeting at most. Try to do it in 30 minutes or less—focuses the…

Running Time: 0:27

If You Were Stranded on a Desert Island, What 3 Things Would You Want With You?

Well, I'd want a phone, to hopefully communicate with someone. I'd want...obviously some good food. And I'd want the weather to be nice. How's that?

Running Time: 0:14

How Do You Handle Receiving Criticism?

None of us like to receive criticism. You know, the business is moving at all times, and you have to make decisions. And many times, when you make decisions in business, some people win, some…

Running Time: 0:26

What Kinds of Questions Do You Ask in Your One-on-Ones?

Well, I always want to know how the person is doing, beyond just the business, the world, but you know, I just always want to try to continue to find out how people are doing in life…

Running Time: 0:37

How Do You Keep Your Superstar Employees Happy?

The best way of retaining employees is keeping them very happy and challenged by their work environment. We use standard retention tools, and bonuses, and financial measures. I don't think financial measures keep employees, particularly…

Running Time: 0:30

How Do You Keep Long-Term Employees Motivated?

We try to keep our teams very much focused on new opportunities. We try to keep our teams focused on trying to get as close to the marketplace and close to the front line of…

Running Time: 0:20

How Do You Manage a Culturally Diverse Team?

The way I manage the team in terms of being culturally diverse...you've got to be in constant communication. Communications, these days, I think, especially for young leaders, is tough. I know it's tough for this generation…

Running Time: 0:39

How Are Millennials Different From Previous Generations Entering the Workforce?

Millennials are different. I have three millennials of my own. Three of my children are millennials. The millennials are the generation, though, that's a very connected generation. They're a generation that wants the world coming…

Running Time: 0:42

Do You Have a Succession Plan and What Is It?

Our board does have a succession plan. So, my level as well as all the other leadership levels of the company, the board is aware of who would be the successor or the successors to…

Running Time: 0:22

"Been with Delta Air Lines for 18 years"

As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian’s primary responsibility is to champion the company’s employee-driven, customer-focused culture and inspire the spirit of innovation that is the foundation of Delta’s success. An 18-year Delta veteran, Ed was a central part of the team that led the airline from bankruptcy to its current position as the industry’s leader. Named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed is committed to putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.

Ed joined Delta in 1998 as Vice President – Finance and Controller and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000. He left Delta in early 2004 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands.

He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer and lead Delta through its restructuring. In 2007 Ed was appointed to serve as Delta’s President, from where he oversaw Delta’s commercial and international functions and strengthened Delta’s financial foundation through innovation, debt reduction, revenue growth and bolstering the airline’s global network.

Prior to joining Delta, Ed held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Ed started his career with Price Waterhouse where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.

Ed grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He lives in Atlanta, and is deeply involved in the community.