Delta CFO to Depart

Paul Jacobson will retire later this year after more than two decades with the airline.
Lauren MuskettFebruary 28, 2020

Paul Jacobson

The chief financial officer of Delta Airlines, Paul Jacobson, is retiring after more than two decades with the airline.

Jacobson joined the company in 1997 as a financial analyst and was named CFO in 2012. He is expected to leave later this year. Jacobson will remain with the company while a replacement is chosen to aid with the transition.

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Delta did not give a reason for Jacobson’s departure.

“While he will be deeply missed, I respect Paul’s decision, after more than two decades of service to Delta, to move on to the next chapter in his career,” chief executive officer Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees.

In 2016, in an interview with CFO, Jacobson said he wanted to work in aviation since childhood and was set to enter Air Force ROTC training while enrolled at Auburn University before he was medically disqualified because he’d had childhood asthma.

“Before classes even started I sat down with my placement director, who asked what I hoped to get out of business school,” Jacobson said. “I said I wanted to get a job with an airline, preferably Delta. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he spent the next two years trying to talk me out of it. He said airlines were a terrible business, and they didn’t value MBA talent.”

Delta emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 after 19 months and a $3 billion restructuring. Southwest and Alaska were the only U.S.-based airlines with investment-grade credit ratings in 2016.

“Paul played a crucial role in Delta’s bankruptcy process and the strategy that led Delta to regain our investment-grade balance sheet while also investing billions in our people, product and service,” Bastian said. “Paul has a gift for sharing financial messages that are clear, actionable, and easily comprehended, ensuring that Delta people understand our financial standing, goals, and path forward,”Bastian said.

Delta shares were down more than 3.5% in midday trading Friday.