Delta Air Lines is expected to appoint current board member and former Northwest Airlines CEO Richard Anderson to succeed Gerald Grinstein as CEO, reports the Wall Street Journal citing “people familiar with the situation”.

Although Anderson is no stranger to the airline industry, he has been away from it for nearly three years. In November 2004 he joined UnitedHealth Group as executive VP, and in December 2006 was named president of the company’s Commercial Services Group.

This followed a 14-year career at Northwest, including as CEO from February 2001.

Northwest president CEO Doug Steenland replaced Anderson at the US major.

Delta could not be reached for comment on the report. A spokesman for UnitedHealth declined to comment.

Delta has been looking to replace Grinstein, who originally planned to retire two months after the SkyTeam alliance member emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 7. However, in a July conference call to discuss the company’s second quarter financial results Grinstein attributed the delay in naming a successor to the need for new board members to become more familiar with the airline industry.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news