Delta Air Lines
said Chairman and Chief Executive Leo F. Mullin will step down from both posts in the new year, but stressed his successors are "two highly regarded former chief executives, who have been integrally involved with Delta."
Effective Jan. 1, 2004, Mullin departs as chief executive officer. On May 1, he'll yield his post as chairman. Gerald Grinstein, 71, a 16-year veteran of Delta's board and former chief executive of Western Airlines and Burlington Northern railroad, will be the new chief executive. John F. (Jack) Smith, Jr., 65, will succeed Mullin as chairman in April. Smith has been a board member since 2000 and is a former chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors.
Mullin, 60, who joined Delta in 1997, said, "I made this deeply personal decision to retire after a great deal of thought and reflection. Delta and the industry have undergone enormous transformations during my years as CEO. I am proud of what Delta people have accomplished in that time and where the company stands today."
The resignation comes after Delta's launch of a new low-cost airline and ongoing contract talks with its disgruntled pilots union.
Delta shares were up 55 cents, or almost 5%, to $11.98 in premarket trading.