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Delta CFO to Forgo Retirement to Guide Airline Through Pandemic

By Lou Whiteman – Apr 21, 2020 at 10:43AM

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Paul Jacobson has agreed to stay on for an indefinite period.

Delta Air Lines (DAL -3.14%) said Tuesday that its chief financial officer Paul Jacobson, who in February announced plans to retire, will instead stay on to help the airline navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

A lot has changed since February, with airlines hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Delta has warned that it expects second quarter revenue to fall 90% year over year.

In a memo to employees Tuesday, CEO Ed Bastian said Jacobson, 48, has agreed to rescind his retirement and remain on as CFO.

"Paul's experience and guidance have been critical to Delta's initial response to the COVID-19 crisis," Bastian wrote. "Under his leadership, we have boosted our liquidity through commercial markets and expanded our cash position to help us weather the storm in the months to come."

Delta executives standing in front of the company's new A220.

Image source: Delta Air Lines.

Jacobson joined Delta in 1997 and was named CFO in 2012. He worked in the company's finance office in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11 and helped the airline navigate its 2005 to 2007 bankruptcy and subsequent merger with Northwest Airlines.

Delta is scheduled to release first quarter results on Wednesday, but based on United Airlines Holdings pre-announcement Monday, investors know to expect significant losses. The second quarter is certain to be worse, but I'm optimistic that top airlines like Delta can weather the storm.

Bastian warned employees to expect a multi-year recovery.

"It's too early to know how long our rebound will take," the CEO wrote. "But we can all be heartened by the fact that Paul has chosen to stay with Delta not only as we rebuild, but for many years to come as we continue our climb."

Lou Whiteman owns shares of Delta Air Lines. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Delta Air Lines. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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