Bastian Still Flying High in Delta-NWA Merger

Delta president and CFO will be keeping those titles if the merger with Northwest's parent goes through.

Delta Air Lines president and CFO Edward Bastian will serve in both those positions if Delta completes its merger with Northwest parent NWA into a new airline that would keep the Delta name.

Bastian, who initially joined Delta in 1998 as vice president of Finance and Controller, is credited with leading Delta through its recent Chapter 11 restructuring process.

According to Delta, the business plan Bastian helped develop included $3 billion in annual financial improvements and gained strong support from the company’s creditors and employees. The plan also included what the airline deems to be an innovative compensation program for Delta employees including stock, cash payouts and pay increases.

Bastian had briefly left Delta in early 2005 to become senior vice president and CFO of Acuity Brands. But he quickly returned to the airline in July 2005 as CFO, and was promoted to president in August 2007 when Richard Anderson was named chief executive officer. Anderson would retain the CEO role at the combined carrier.

Before joining Delta, Bastian had worked for PepsiCo, where he served as vice president of finance for Pepsi Cola International. While at Pepsi he had also served as vice president of business processes reengineering for the Frito-Lay operation and vice president, finance and controller, for Frito-Lay International.

Prior to PepsiCo, Bastian was a partner in the New York audit practice of Price Waterhouse. He specialized in the entertainment, advertising, and manufacturing sectors, and also served as the strategic planning partner for Price Waterhouse’s New York Region.

The $3-billion-plus deal between Delta and Northwest promises to be as much of a financial challenge as a strategic challenge.

The two airlines assert that the transaction will generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue and cost synergies from more effective aircraft utilization, a more comprehensive and diversified route system and cost synergies from reduced overhead and improved operational efficiency.

According to a joint announcement, the newly combined company is expected to incur one-time cash costs of no more than $1 billion to integrate the two airlines, and to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue and cost savings, citing improved aircraft utilization and a revised route structure, and lower overhead. “The combined company will have a stronger, more durable financial base and one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry,” they added, with expected liquidity of nearly $7 billion at closing.

There is no word on what role Northwest CFO David M. Davis would play at the combined airline.

Davis has held the position of executive vice president and CFO for Northwest Airlines since last June. He oversees financial planning, accounting, tax, treasury, investor relations, fuel and fleet planning for the company, and has responsibility for managing facilities and airport affairs.

Davis rejoined Northwest in August 2005 after serving most recently as chief financial officer of Houston-based KRATON Polymers, LLC. Prior to that, he was the executive vice president – finance and chief financial officer of US Airways, where he led the company’s finance functions, fleet planning, purchasing, information technology, corporate real estate, investor relations and internal auditing.

Earlier in his career, he held a finance position at Delta.

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