Key exec at Delta to retire; New operations chief once at Northwest

Delta Air Lines is replacing its top operations executive with a former Northwest Airlines executive who most recently ran the Greyhound Lines bus company.

Joe Kolshak, executive vice president-operations, is retiring after 20 years at Delta, the airline said.

Kolshak, 50, will be replaced by Stephen Gorman, who once was in charge of operations and maintenance at Northwest.

Thursday's move came a day after Delta said it had opted not to hire a chief financial officer to take over that part of President Ed Bastian's duties as the No. 2 executive and CFO. The airline has no chief operating officer.

Both announcements come about three months after Delta hired ex-Northwest Chief Executive Richard Anderson as CEO, bypassing Bastian and another internal candidate. Executive shuffles often follow a CEO change.

Gorman, 52, joins Delta on Saturday. The new executive vice president will be in charge of flight operations, maintenance, airport customer service and Delta Global Services, a subsidiary that provides numerous passenger and aircraft-related services.

"His experience, knowledge of the airline industry and ability to deliver superior results make him an ideal leader," Anderson said in a news release.

In 2001, the Minneapolis Star described Gorman as a "favorite" executive of Anderson's who was credited with helping fix customer service by reducing the backlog of aircraft repairs. He worked at the Minneapolis carrier from 1996 to 2001, following Anderson as he rose through the ranks in maintenance and flight operations. Anderson was Northwest's CEO from 2001 to 2004.

Gorman, then Northwest's executive vice president of operations, left the airline to head Krispy Kreme Doughnuts' North American division. He became CEO of Greyhound Lines in 2003, heading the company for four years during its turnaround efforts. He resigned in October, The Associated Press reported, after a Scottish transportation company, FirstGroup PLC, took over Greyhound's parent company.

Delta said Kolshak will retire Jan. 1 but give up his daily duties immediately. He was named operations chief in 2004 by ex-CEO Gerald Grinstein.

Kolshak, who joined Delta as a pilot, later became chief pilot and once headed the company's investor relations department.