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Delta Air Lines COO Gil West to Retire in September

Delta Air Lines COO Gil West announced his retirement from Delta (Photo: Delta Air Lines)

Delta Air Lines’ Chief Operating Officer Gil West announced his plans to retire from the company. The announcement was made public in an internal memo to employees from CEO Ed Bastian on Aug. 25.

Considered the architect of the carrier’s operating performance excellence, West joined Delta in 2008 as the Senior Vice President of Airport Customer Service. He was a key piece to the integration of Delta and Northwest Airlines operations when the carriers merged.

He eventually became the COO in 2014 and oversaw Delta’s Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance; Delta Connection; Delta Private Jets; Fleet and Technical Procurement; Flight Operations; Operations Analysis and Performance; Operations and Customer Center and Technical Operations teams.

Known for his catchphrase, “cancel the cancellations,” West led the company in virtually eliminating flight cancellations attributed to controllable causes. Delays and cancellations plummeted under his leadership through innovative use of technology and eventually earning Delta’s top spot in the Airline Quality Ranking in 2019.

Bastian, in his memo to employees, said “Gil’s team brought Delta from the bottom of the industry in operational performance to the worldwide gold standard in reliability – something validated in recent years by the Wall Street Journal, FlightGlobal and many others. That journey invigorated Delta’s culture of continuous improvement in safety, efficiency and performance across all of our operational divisions.”

In addition to his other responsibilities, West also bolstered outside servicing opportunities through divisions such as Delta Hangar, Technical Operations MRO Services, Delta Flight Products and Delta Material Services.

West enjoyed immense popularity among Delta’s staff. One employee commented on a social media site, “Going to miss Gil and all his funny quips he would use during presentations with his southern twang. A great leader I got to learn from indirectly for 5 years.”

West has an enviable aviation resume for aviation professionals. He has held leadership roles at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Boeing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and received an MBA from National University in San Diego.

West is expected to stay on through the end of September giving the carrier time to locate and name a replacement and to transition his responsibilities to his successor.

“While we will miss Gil, his greatest contribution to Delta was the creation of the world’s best operational team. We’re thankful for the foundation of operational excellence that our team will stand on and lead us forward in the years ahead,” Bastian said.

Rick Shideler


  • Rick Shideler

    Rick is a retired airline maintenance professional with over 40 years experience in commercial, corporate and military aviation sectors. Rick holds an FAA Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) and a FCC General RadioTelephone Licenses. Rick is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has served in multiple leadership positions including Director of Maintenance for a large corporate aviation firm, airline Director of Engineering and has chaired multiple aviation maintenance safety and reliability industry committees. Rick took his first airplane ride at six months old and became an airline geek shortly thereafter.

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