No fun for Delta, says tough new chief

Richard Anderson is a tough guy. Grew up in a tough town, Galveston in south Texas, worked construction jobs to pay his way through college and law school, was a criminal-courts prosecutor, dealt with tough 48092a.jpg unions at Northwest. He went to Delta Air Lines on 1 September and came out swinging. Not against the union there, which has been a relatively cooperative group of pilots. No, Anderson saved his toughness for analysts, speculators and Boeing. Announcing Delta’s record third-quarter earnings the other day, he dashed speculation that Delta would order 128 of Boeing’s new 787 – an ‘order’ that had gained the status of fact among some observers. “There never was a plan for the 787,” he told securities analysts, adding, “I don’t know an airline in the world that needs 128 787s.” Anderson said paying down debt and restoring the balance sheet were his priorities. Delta will be careful not to “load the balance sheet up with fun, new airplanes”. The 777, he says, is the only likely long-distance addition to the fleet.

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