Delta Air Lines Replaces CFO, Makes Other Exec Changes

ATLANTA (AP) -- Delta Air Lines Inc. abruptly replaced its chief financial officer and made other executive changes Wednesday, including adding a new senior position, as it prepared to record another hefty loss amid persistently high fuel prices.

The departure of Michael Palumbo, the second CFO to leave Delta in 14 months, was announced in a statement in which the third largest U.S. airline said there is growing urgency to its transformation efforts.

The Atlanta-based company, which reports second-quarter results on Thursday, is trying to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

''Persistently high fuel prices and increased competitive pressures have added new urgency to our efforts,'' Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein said. ''Today our airline must be prepared not only to deliver more, but to deliver it more quickly.''

Spokesman John Kennedy said Palumbo was leaving to pursue other opportunities. He said he could not elaborate.

Palumbo is being replaced by Edward H. Bastian, a six-year Delta veteran, who is returning to the company to become executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective immediately.

Palumbo was named to be Delta's chief financial officer after Michele Burns left that position in May 2004 to take a similar job at bankrupt energy supplier Mirant Corp.

''It was a personal decision, and Michael gave us time to find a successor and he will be available to us for transition purposes,'' Kennedy said.

Also Wednesday, Delta announced the creation of a chief operating officer position, which will be filled by Jim Whitehurst, currently senior vice president and chief network and planning officer. He will assume oversight for operations, customer service, network and revenue management and corporate strategy.

In other moves, Joe Kolshak, currently senior vice president and chief of operations, is being given added responsibilities for government affairs; Lee Macenczak, currently senior vice president and chief of customer service, is being given added responsibilities for public affairs; and Paul Matsen, currently senior vice president and chief marketing officer, is being given new responsibilities for technology and corporate communications.

Glen Hauenstein, a 20-year veteran of the airline industry, is also joining Delta as executive vice president and chief of network and revenue management beginning Aug. 1.

Shares of Delta rose 6 cents to $3.93 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where they have traded in a 52-week range of $2.46 to $8.17.