Delta Abruptly Replaces CFO

New finance chief Edward Bastian had left the troubled airline only last month to become the finance chief of another company.
Stephen TaubJuly 20, 2005

Financially shaky Delta Air Lines has named a new CFO as part of sweeping changes to its executive ranks.

Edward H. Bastian has been tapped as executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective immediately. Bastian, who had spent six years with Delta, most recently as senior vice president of finance and controller, had left the airline only last month to become the CFO of lighting and chemical company Acuity Brands Inc.

In a separate press release, Acuity announced that vice president and controller Karen J. Holcom will serve as interim CFO until a replacement is hired.

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Bastian replaces Michael Palumbo, who will leave Delta “to pursue other opportunities,” according to a company statement. Palumbo is the second finance chief to depart the Atlanta-based airline in 14 months. In May 2004 he replaced M. Michele Burns, who shuttled crosstown to become CFO of energy supplier Mirant Corp.

“It was a personal decision, and Michael gave us time to find a successor and he will be available to us for transition purposes,” spokesman John Kennedy told the Associated Press.

The CFO shake-up was just one of a number of management changes announced by Delta on Wednesday. Among the other personnel moves: senior vice president and chief network and planning officer Jim Whitehurst was promoted to chief operating officer, and senior vice president and chief of operations Joe Kolshak was promoted to executive vice president and chief of operations.

“These changes further strengthen an already battle-tested leadership team whose members have proven their ability to develop and execute an aggressive, innovative strategy in the most challenging of times,” said chief executive officer Gerald Grinstein, in a statement. As for further challenges: Delta may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection before the end of the year, according to a number of published reports.