Delta Air Lines COO Gil West To Retire At The End Of September

Delta Air Lines’ Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer is retiring after 12 years with the company. The move was announced today by CEO Ed Bastian in a memo seen by Simple Flying. Gil West has spent a long time at Delta, improving the airline and its operations. He will stay at Delta through September until a transition plan has been established.

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Delta COO Gil West is retiring. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Gil West’s role at Delta

Gil West leads an extensive team at Delta. His role is to oversee the team responsible for promoting Delta’s operations across the globe. Departments under his jurisdiction include Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance; Delta Connection; Delta Private Jets; Fleet and Technical Procurement; Flight Operations; Operations Analysis and Performance; Operations and Customer Center; and Technical Operations.

His role also sees him drive innovation across Delta and building up opportunities such as Delta Hangar, Technical Operations MRO Services, Delta Flight Products, and Delta Material Services.

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Before his role as COO, he served as Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service and Technical Operations. In that role, he oversaw Delta’s airport operations, customer service, contracted services, workplace safety, and operational IT strategy. Also, he worked on maintenance activities, flight safety and regulatory compliance, and aircraft modifications.

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Operations were Gil West’s strong suit, and he’s helped improve Delta’s reliability and performance. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Mr. West will stick with Delta through the end of September to facilitate the smooth transition. Delta has not yet named an immediate replacement.

Before joining Delta, he worked for Laidlaw Transit Services as President and CEO. In the airline industry, he has held leadership roles at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Boeing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and received an MBA from National University in San Diego.

Delta planes at JFK
Managing large and complex airline operations such as Delta is no small feat. Doing it incredibly well is Mr. West’s expertise. Photo: Getty Images

An integral role in the post-merger landscape

Mr. West joined Delta in March 2008 and led the Delta and Northwest airport and customer service merger integration. In the immediate aftermath of the merger, he helped improve customer service and operational improvements, bringing Delta towards the top of operational rankings.

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Gil West rings the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange back in 2019. Photo: Delta Air Lines

He has built on his success in the post-merger landscape in building up Delta’s on-time performance and operational reliability. Today, Delta consistently ranks highly among US airlines when it comes to measuring operational metrics.

Other retirements

Earlier today, the CEO of Qantas International, Tino La Spina, decided to step down over the fallout from the ongoing crisis that saw international travel head to the back burner. El Al Chairman Eli Defes retired over a medical issue.

Earlier this year, CFO Paul Jacobson announced his retirement from Delta, though that has been delayed amid the current crisis.

Retirements from the industry are always a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, Mr. West has made laudable improvements to Delta’s operations and spent many years with the company. He will depart Delta with a lasting legacy of bringing the airline from near the bottom to the top and supporting a robust and healthy slate of operations.

What do you think about Mr. West’s retirement? Let us know in the comments!