Delta veterans bow out

The departure of three veteran airline executives at Delta Air Lines underlines how tough times are for this US major.

The carrier's executive vice-president and chief customer service officer Vicki Escarra and John Selvaggio, president of its low-cost unit Song, have resigned, while Delta TechOps senior vice-president Ray Valeika has retired.

To an extent, all have been encouraged to retire early for their own benefit - they will be assured of a good exit package from the carrier, something that would be at risk if Delta was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, says Michael Bell, co-leader of the global aviation practice at executive search firm Spencer Stuart. "These departures are yet another implication of potential bankruptcy," says Bell. "It means you cannot always keep your best people."

Escarra had worked for Delta for 31 years, beginning her career as a flight attendant. Delta senior vice-president and chief human resources officer Lee Macenczak will assume Escarra's responsibilities, along with the title of chief customer service officer.

Delta is seeking a replacement for Selvaggio, with Joanne Smith, Song's vice-president of marketing and customers, taking charge for now. Selvaggio has had a 30-year career in the airline business, partly with US Airways, and joined Delta in 1998. In September, he had persuaded Delta chief executive Gerry Grinstein to expand Song despite Grinstein's misgivings.

Tony Charaf moves from his role as senior vice-president of Delta Air Logistics to take over the retiring Valeika's position. Valeika has spent his entire career in the industry.



Source: Airline Business