When Richard Anderson resigned as Delta’s Chairman — suddenly in October, without notice, and without waiting for the airline to be ready to name his successor as CEO the new Chairman — I said that it would be interesting to see what the then-61 year old did next.
Now we know. He’s the new CEO of Amtrak. Hold onto those Guest Rewards points, folks.
Copyright: tdezenzio / 123RF Stock Photo
Anderson spent his tenure at Delta playing hardball with customers, suppliers, and politicians — always seeking the best deal for Delta.
Under his leadership Delta lobbied for fuel tax subsidies and air traffic control subsidies, and handed out elite status to high level politicians in Georgia — while blaming the big Gulf airlines for 9/11 (when Delta partners with Saudia, whose government was at least complicit in the attacks).
He did this because he wanted to make lower airfares illegal. The 9/11 comment should go on his tombstone, like the late Marion Barry’s line about the woman with whom he was videotaped smoking crack.
Anderson claimed offloading his airline’s pensions on the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation wasn’t a subsidy. Given a bit of time we’re likely to hear from Anderson than Amtrak isn’t subsidized either — Amtrak is currently subsidized at around $1.4 billion annually (although they asked for $1.8 billion).
The airline CEO most nominally opposed to (everyone else’s) government subsidies will now run the National Railroad Passenger Corporation created by the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970.
Amtrak, by the way, competes with airlines including Delta especially in the Northeast corridor (Washington – New York – Boston) and has even sought to keep Delta from advertising in DC’s Union Station. (Update: the dispute between Amtrak and Delta and Anderson receiving over $70 million in Delta stock last year creates an interesting conflict.)
Anderson’s boss at Delta’s government-backed competitor will be a 7 member board of directors appointed to 5 year terms by the President and confirmed by the Senate. His ‘company’ will receive federal grants from the Federal Railroad Administration. He’ll now be charged with growing subsidies for this travel provider.
He’s not likely to make Amtrak — which takes 7 months to respond to a woman trapped in one of their elevators — worse although we might have to watch for densification (more seats, less legroom) and unbundling (more fees).
We are sorry to hear that. Are you still in the elevator?
— Amtrak (@Amtrak) September 7, 2016