Delta Air Lines Picks Industry Veteran to Lead Low-cost Carrier Strategy

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today named John Selvaggio to lead the execution of Delta’s new low-cost strategy. Selvaggio, 55, previously Delta’s senior vice president, Airport Customer Service and former president and chief executive officer for low-cost start-up Midway Airlines, will lead the development of a new product that meets customer demand for low-price service and builds on Delta’s strengths to compete more aggressively with low-cost carriers.

Concurrently, Rich Cordell, 46, is named senior vice president - Airport Customer Service, one of the company’s largest operations groups, where he will be responsible for all airport operations and customer service functions, including more than 17,000 employees.

“John is a proven leader,” said Frederick W. Reid, Delta’s president and chief operating officer. “His operations experience, customer focus, and marketing skills are exactly what Delta needs to take the extensive strategic analysis already developed inside the company and turn it into an action plan that strengthens Delta’s ability to profitably compete with low-cost airlines.”
“Delta has tremendous competitive advantages and unique business expertise developed over years of successful low-cost operations,” said Selvaggio. “We are looking at solutions that capitalize on our competitive advantages, including our market-leadership in Florida and on the East Coast, our low-cost experience with Delta Express, and the power of our fleet and technology investments.”
“The overall strategy is more than just a low-cost carrier response,” according to Selvaggio. “It is designed to leverage all of Delta’s strengths to compete more effectively in the new airline industry environment.”
Selvaggio’s team will begin work immediately on network, operations, marketing and human resource plans for the low-cost project. “We expect to update our employees, customers, and shareholders with more details later this fall,” said Selvaggio. “Transitioning to the new model will be a big part of our discussions. We want to build on the successes of Delta Express and win new ground. In the meantime, Delta Express will continue to be a very effective competitor in every market it serves.”
Most recently serving as Delta’s senior vice president - Airport Customer Service, Selvaggio joined the company in 1998. He came to Delta from U.S. Airways, where he introduced a regional jets strategy into the U.S. Airways Express division he headed. Previously, Selvaggio was with Midway Airlines from 1994 to 1997 as president from which he ascended to the role of president and chief executive officer. At Midway’s helm, he successfully developed a low-cost business plan that moved the airline from Chicago to create an East Coast hub in Raleigh/Durham. Selvaggio started his 30 year career with American Airlines, where he held many diverse leadership positions before rising to president of AMR’s subsidiary Wings West Airlines.
As acting president of Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA), Selvaggio managed the transition plan following Delta’s acquisition of ASA in 1999. He instituted the permanent, part-time program in the airport customer service division and has fostered the development of industry-leading airport technology, making it easier for customers to do business with Delta, while reducing the airline’s costs and increasing its productivity. Most recently, he has taken on the role of operational expert on airport security issues representing Delta’s views with the Transportation Security Administration and Air Transport Association.
“Rich Cordell is an established, respected leader with more than 23 years of experience with Delta. During the past two years as vice president, Airport Customer Service, he has been responsible for Delta service and operational performance in 39 cities in the central region with 516 daily departures, including Cincinnati and Dallas/Fort Worth, two of Delta’s key hubs,” said Reid. “His in-depth knowledge of Delta’s airport operations as well as his inclusive leadership style, position him well to address both the future challenges and opportunities we face.”