Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson Named President and CEO of Amtrak

R ichard H. Anderson has been named the next president and chief executive officer of Amtrak who will eventually replace Wick Moorman, who is the current chief executive officer — and Wednesday, July 12, 2017 will be the first day on which Anderson reports to Amtrak.

Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson Named President and CEO of Amtrak

“To ensure a smooth transition, Anderson will serve in a co-CEO capacity with current CEO Wick Moorman through Dec. 31, 2017, at which time Moorman will become an advisor to the company”, according to this official announcement which was released earlier today from Amtrak. “Moorman joined Amtrak in September 2016 as a transitional CEO tasked with improving the company’s operations, streamlining the organizational structure, and helping recruit his successor.”

Richard Anderson chose to retire as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, Incorporated effective as of Monday, May 2, 2016, which was his 61st birthday. Anderson was subsequently elevated to the position of executive chairman of the board of directors of the airline; but he suddenly vacated that role after slightly greater than five months.

The commercial aviation career of Richard Anderson began 30 years ago in 1987 at Continental Airlines before he was employed at Northwest Airlines for 14 years — during which he progressed to its chief executive officer from 2001 to 2004. Richard Anderson joined as a member of the board of directors of Delta Air Lines in April of 2007 — the month when Delta Air Lines emerged from bankruptcy protection — and in September of 2007, he joined Delta Air Lines from United Health Group to become its chief executive officer, succeeding Gerald Grinstein.

After a stellar career in aviation, if his appointment to lead the national passenger railroad of the United States may initially seem strange, consider that his father was employed by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Richard Anderson — who is proud to be a native of Galveston — earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Houston at Clear Lake City; and a Juris Doctorate at South Texas College of Law.

Summary

I have met Richard Anderson multiple times over the years; and I have personally witnessed him practicing the leadership capability of working from the heart and establishing personal connections. He has responded to correspondence with handwritten notes personally signed by him. He has also answered every single e-mail message I have sent to him — not that I have a habit of bombarding him with e-mail messages, of course. How do I know they are from him? Because I have also corresponded with his executive staff, whom I know by first names as well; and if they respond to me on behalf of him, they sign the responses that way to ensure that that is clear.

Steven Klamon Brian Cohen and Richard Anderson

From left to right: Steven Klamon, Brian Cohen and Richard Anderson at the auditorium of the training center at the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines just prior to Richard speaking to approximately 200 frequent fliers of Delta Air Lines in attendance on the first of four days of the 2010 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event. Photograph courtesy of Greg Johnston.

He has never been condescending to me at any time we have ever spoken in person; in fact, he can be rather refreshingly modest. With only one exception — and I have to believe that that exception must have been warranted; after all, he is the chief executive office of the most profitable commercial airline in the world as well as the chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber for 2014 — whenever he said to me that he will do something, he has always kept his word with me.

Here are two examples: at the luncheon to thank all of the employees of Delta Air Lines for the success of the first Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event back in June of 2009, Richard promised a larger budget for the second Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event back in October of 2010 — there was even a special weblog for that event hosted right here at BoardingArea, but it does not exist anymore — and boy, did he ever come through on that promise. Richard even attended the executive engagement session to speak to and interact with frequent fliers of Delta Air Lines; and not just for a couple of minutes — probably more like at least 30 minutes…

…and for the luncheon on the afternoon of March 14, 2011 to thank all of the employees of Delta Air Lines for the incredible success of that second event, Richard made sure to stop by for a few minutes to say a few words as he promised — and he apologized to me for not staying longer, but he had to deal with the emergency situation pertaining to Japan, which had just experienced a major earthquake. He could have simply canceled — and it would have absolutely been understandable, given the unusual and exceptional circumstances — but Richard Anderson keeps his promises.

Despite some questionable gaffes — such as when he said “And it’s a great irony to have the UAE from the Arabian Peninsula talk about that, given the fact that our industry was really shocked by the terrorism of 9/11, which came from terrorists from the Arabian Peninsula” during a live televised interview — and despite a number of significant changes which adversely affected members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program, Richard Anderson has served Delta Air Lines well as a strong leader, as he led the airline towards enjoying consecutive quarters of record profits in recent years. He retired from his position as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines arguably at the apex of his career.

I personally wish him all of the best on the new chapter in his career.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson Named President and CEO of Amtrak”

  1. Christian says:

    Considering the intentional harm that Anderson inflicted on the most loyal Delta customers, for the first time, I’m glad that I live in a city not served by Amtrak. Anderson managed to change me from a fervent Delta partisan to someone who avoids the airline at nearly all costs. Hopefully he’ll do less harm at Amtrak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *