I have taken this opportunity to share one pilots opinion of the Delta debacle that faces this group. Take or leave it for what it's worth but I suspect that it is just about spot on.
The Loss of Loyalty
Under Mr. Dave Garrett, Delta was maintaining its' fine tradition of
loyalty to employees, suppliers, cities served and, of course, customers. When
Mr. Allen took over (with Mr. Grinstein on the Board of Directors) Delta was in
fine shape financially and with good morale from top to bottom. Through bad
management (the details are far too long to include in this letter) Delta began
to lose money. Allen (Grinstein) decided (via his 7.5 program) to turn his back
on years of "The Family Tradition" and initiate pay cuts, part-time employee
programs, moving company functions to sub-contractors etc.. I believe that the
response from Mr. Garrett (given the same circumstances-circumstances that
would, in my opinion, not have surfaced under his tenure) would have been much
different and ultimately very successful. He would simply have followed "The
Family Tradition". An estimate of the daily losses would have been compared to
the daily payroll and pay-outs and the payroll reduced to bring the balance
sheet back into the black. Whatever this percent of payroll was, a BIGGER cut
would occur in the red brick buildings. Dave being a LEADER (by example) not a
MANAGER driven by ego and/or greed. Dave was interested in NOT making the
unions wear the black hats and thus would first approach the only unions at
Delta; ALPA and the dispatchers (get the target-but lesser- percentage
concession from the unions) and simply bring this concession to the entire
company. The most important result of this action would be that EVERYONE would
still receive their orange envelopes, EVERYONE would still maintain their
performance to our customers, Deltas' ranking in on time performance, customer
satisfaction, baggage handling, etc., would stay in place at the top of the
industry. As the rest of the industry behaved differently, Delta would survive,
thrive and ultimately reward ALL employees with a financial gain through stock
or profit sharing.
But Allen (Grinstein) crossed a Rubicon with that abysmal decision (The
7.5) as Delta management was no longer listening to C.E. Woolman who said "All
airlines are the same, only people make them different". But the loss of
loyalty went FAR BEYOND just the employees. It was extended to our suppliers,
the cities we served, and ultimately to our CUSTOMERS. Marriotts no longer
"went the extra mile" to accommodate Delta's shifting crew demands; domestic
cities (Jackson, WY, Burlington , Vermont, and many others) felt betrayed;
international cities felt betrayed, Portland stopped serving its' "Sister City"
in Japan shortly after initiating the service with much fanfare from the mayors
of the two towns, I personally witnessed the tears of the Prague employees the
day they were told that Delta was stopping service and there were no plans in
place to move them within the company or, at least, attempt to find them
employment with some other outfit. I was ashamed of Delta that day, it was just
before Christmas and the Czech Republic has no unemployment benefits or welfare.
Delta simply ABANDONED them. I knew, precisely at that time, with that
decision, that the Delta Family was dead. Our customers didn't like the loss of
loyalty either and they began to vote with their wallets.
The gross MISMANAGEMENT of Delta did not stop there. The Pan Am assets
of South America were never used and the European assets mismanaged with the
ABANDONMENT of a high percentage of this operation. Delta foolishly attempted
to serve South America out of Atlanta. It CLOSED the FLL/MIA (pilot) base AFTER
Eastern folded and allowed American to serve Latin America out of MIA. During
the base closing party (held on a huge yatch) I said something like "Delta is
going to have to hire the Queen Mary when they close Atlanta", it was a joke but
it was filled with prophesy. The base manager of Zurich complained to me that
after his efforts to secure a lucrative MD-11 freight contract from Zurich to
Atlanta, it was canceled as Delta moved the 767 onto the pairing. Bitterness
and cancellation penalties in its' wake. I could go on and on.
It's heartbreaking to KNOW the "Spirit of Delta" is still alive and well
amongst us, the employees. Witness the Retired L-1011 Captains' story of the
Delta Employees and his new company (a pharmacy) helping New Orleans after the
hurricane, witness the employees giving to the Credit Union to alleviate Deltas'
fuel costs. But the "Spirit of Delta" alive and well will do NO GOOD if it is
not alive and well at the top. It is not and has not been in the corporate
headquarters ever since Dave Garrett departed. I still find in incredulous that
ANYONE working for Delta has any confidence in the present administration. The
one thing that should come out of this bankruptcy is a complete change of top
personnel. That Grinstein allowed Allen and Mullin to cede loyalty to history,
abandon employees, badly manage assets, strategy and then; REWARD these
people with obscene amounts of money is beyond belief. The fact that he
displays himself as the only hope left is laughable if it was not so pathetic.
However, I do understand the employees who support him, it's natural to trust
your leader and it's a hard thing to give up. It's like discovering that your
Parents privately thought your birth was a mistake, you just do not want to
believe it and in fact may not believe it even when presented with solid proof
that it is true. I'm sick and tired of hearing (from Grinstein) that Delta is folding
its' tent due to the high price of fuel, it started a long time ago!
The The employees should take an active part in finding new LEADERS NOT
MANAGERS. Start by talking to Dave Garrett or Herb Kelleher and go from there.
Just get rid of the present administration, believe me, you've earned the right!
I just wish that ALPA had been smart enough to force the issue during the last
round of negotiations, c'est la vie.
I hope the company can survive. It won't survive for me. I believe that
any success will leave present retirees with what they now have left. It's the
price we pay for not having due diligence in allowing the loyalty to disappear
from the top.
I know now how the Prague employees felt those years ago when loyalty
stopped and abandonment reigned just prior to the cold Christmas days in the
MD-11 Captain Retiree
747 Line Check Airman Air Atlanta Icelandic