Ed Bastian is the Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines, the largest airline in the world in terms of revenue, assets value, and market capitalization.

The CEO, who has been serving in this role since May 2016, has been a godsend to stockholders and customers alike. A long-term leader at Delta, he has steered the company through the most challenging periods of its history, including 9/11, bankruptcy, and COVID-19. In fact, in 2008, only three years after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, he spearheaded Delta’s merger with Northwest Airlines to create the world’s largest airline.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

As CEO, he has continued this excellence, leading a team of more than 90,000 people around the world. While at the helm, he has also turned Delta into one of the world’s most awarded airlines. Under his watch, Delta has been named the Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; the top-ranking airline in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; the Platinum Award recipient for operational excellence by Cirium; and one of TIME100’s Most Influential Companies, among others.

Bastian started showing signs of brilliance from the very beginning of his career. After graduating from St. Bonaventure University, he joined Price Waterhouse, where he became an auditor in its New York practice. During a 1981 annual review, he uncovered a $50 million fraud scheme involving ad powerhouse J. Walter Thompson. By the time Bastian was 31, he was named partner. He would go on to hold senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International.

As a result of his success, Bastian has accumulated numerous top honors over the years. In 2018, Fortune magazine named the CEO among "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders." The next year, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations. More recently, he was a recipient of FlightGlobal’s 2021 Executive Leadership Award for his strong leadership and helping Delta navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

Bastian's Delta roots go back to 1998, when he joined the company as VP of Finance and Controller. Over the years, he's held several top leadership positions with increasing responsibility. However, his tenure with the airline isn't unbroken. In 2004, he left to serve as CFO of Acuity Brands, only to return in six months, when he assumed CFO duties for Delta during its difficult restructuring period. Then, in 2007, Bastian was appointed to serve as the company's president, strengthening its financial foundation through innovation, debt reduction, revenue growth, and expansion of the airline’s global network.