Airline appointments

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Delta Air Lines
The choice of Richard Anderson, 52, to lead Delta Air Lines has received widespread acclaim in the industry, with one insider describing him as "the candidate" when it came to the best person the airline's board could have selected. Analysts praised the choice of Anderson, with Calyon Securities analyst Ray Neidl saying his operating experience will be invaluable to the airline.

However, in a move seen as inevitable if he did not succeed Jerry Grinstein, internal candidate for the top job, chief operating officer Jim Whitehurst, 39, stepped down after losing the succession contest. The other internal candidate, chief financial officer Ed Bastian, was promoted to president and will report directly to Anderson. The airline says it will seek a new chief financial officer, but will not likely seek a new chief operating officer.

Anderson, the former Northwest Airlines chief executive, was prised away from UnitedHealth Group to join Delta. He left Northwest in 2004 to join the US health care firm where he was executive vice-president.

He immediately discouraged speculation that he would seek to engineer a merger between Delta and Northwest or between Delta and any other carrier. Anderson says that his short-term concerns will be improving Delta's regional operations, including its troubled Comair unit, and improving its business-class service on international flights.

Anderson ran heavily unionised Northwest between 2001 and 2004, and won some grudging respect from the traditionally feisty pilots and others at the carrier. At Delta, he will deal with only one union, a chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, but has acknowledged that employee morale could be a problem.

Grinstein, 75 and a long-time Delta director, had come out of retirement to shepherd the carrier through its reorganisation, and will remain a consultant to the airline at the nominal salary of $1 a year.
David Field Washington

Caribbean Airlines
Caribbean Airlines has announced that Star Alliance manager Philip Saunders has been appointed as its new chief executive taking over from Peter Davies, who will continue to act as an advisor to the airline's board.

Saunders left SN Brussels in 2005, where he worked under Davies, to join Star as its vice-president commercial. He formerly worked in senior positions at British Airways and its affiliate Deutsche BA.

Davies has led the resurrection of Caribbean Airlines, which was relaunched this year after BWIA was closed in late 2006. The carrier is now heading into its next phase, which includes adding aircraft and developing airline partnerships.

Mark Pilling London

Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has created the position of deputy chief executive and appointed veteran Norm Thompson to fill it. Thompson will be the right-hand man for chief executive Rob Fyfe.

Both men were contenders for the top post two years ago when Ralph Norris left. In his 39 years with ANZ, Thompson has worked in finances, as well as regional general manager for the Americas and vice-president regional sales at Ansett Australia.

Currently he is the ANZ group's general manager for short-haul airlines, and will retain this post until a replacement is found. As deputy chief executive, Thompson will work closely with Fyfe on ANZ's structural changes as it responds to Virgin Blue's entry into the New Zealand domestic market and plans further international growth.

Because the post is new, Thompson's appointment offers no hint as to whether this puts him in line as Fyfe's eventual successor.

David Knibb Seattle

Cargoitalia
Stan Wraight, a career veteran of the air cargo industry, has been named as the chairman of Italian start-up freight operator Cargoitalia. He moves straight from leading the push by Russian outsize freight carrier Volga-Dnepr into scheduled cargo operations.

Wraight's task will be to expand Cargoitalia's network and forge deals with potential strategic partners. The privately owned carrier began operating with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30Fs in June 2006.

The former KLM Cargo and Atlas Air executive stepped down from the Russian carrier, called AirBridge Cargo, mainly because of the difficulties in commuting from his home in Canada to Russia and other parts of the globe where the carrier operates. Wraight will remain a consultant to the company.

Mark Pilling London