Hear from GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra on how the automaker partnered with Ventec to start mass production of ventilators in just 30 days.
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Recognizing a need, pivoting and adapting to serve that need are essential to any business' success. And in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, serving the health and well-being of humanity was at the forefront for General Motors.

On the recent third episode of Gaining Altitude with Delta CEO Ed Bastian, GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra recounted how her company went from an auto manufacturer with no knowledge of the medical sector to a crucial partner in the production of 10,000 ventilators a month – in less than 30 days.

As the respiratory disease ravaged the globe, the need for ventilators to save patients soared. GM’s eventual partner, Ventec, at the time was making about 250 ventilators a month. Together, the companies asked: How can we make 10,000 a month?

GM partnered with Ventec to understand their processes and needs and secure new parts sourced from the automotive industry. Just 30 days after their first meeting, the two companies were building their first ventilator together.

“The team got it done in 30 days because everybody just … they didn’t say wait I don’t have time or I’ll get to that tomorrow,” Barra said. “They dropped everything, and they did it. Because they knew it might mean saving a life of someone they know.”

Now, Barra said, GM talks about going at “ventilator speed” when considering solutions to other challenges: “It’s kind of reframed everybody to say, how do we just cut through and get the work done?”


The COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright light on health and safety for all of the world. Delta was quick to recognize that a focus on cleanliness was needed and has led the industry in maintaining its cleanliness commitments through the Delta CareStandard. And, our commitment to cleanliness is here to stay.

The Global Cleanliness organization – launched last year – continues its work to develop science-backed cleaning technologies and processes that ensure the health and safety of customers and employees.  

Additionally, Delta is dedicating its own robust employee resources to help airport teams around the system consistently meet the airline’s high standards. So far, more than 100 clean specialists have helped to oversee Delta’s quality assurance program, collecting data to ensure the effectiveness of cleaning protocols for a range of high-touch surfaces throughout the travel ribbon. Furthermore, as part of the Delta CareStandard, Clean Ambassadors are stationed in over 40 airports domestically to serve as cleanliness champions and ensure a consistently clean experience across Delta areas and aircrafts.

Today, Delta’s commitment to safety, cleanliness and wellness is as strong as ever, and keeping our communities safe has never been more important. Customers can rest assured that cleanliness is – and will continue to be – a crucial component of the Delta CareStandard and integral to the premium experience we work to deliver every day.

Flight attendant cleaning
Cleanliness is a crucial part of the Delta CareStandard and integral to the premium experience we work to deliver every day.

Clean air: The air on Delta aircraft is completely refreshed 10 to 30 times per hour (every 2 to 6 minutes) with fresh outside air or air that has been circulated through industrial-grade HEPA filters, which extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses.

Clean surfaces: Delta regularly cleans and sanitizes high-touch areas onboard our planes and at the airport.

Clean hands: Customers are never more than a few feet away from hand sanitizer, with stations available from curb to claim.

Ongoing innovations: Delta continues to innovate with technologies like BiaXam, a new antimicrobial, continuously-disinfecting surface coating we’re testing at check-in kiosks in Atlanta.

Committed team: World-renowned cardiologist Dr. Henry Ting joined Delta earlier this year as our Chief Health Officer – a first for a U.S. airline. Dr. Ting has been a key voice in the health and wellness decisions that ensure customer and employee wellness throughout the journey.

Data-driven partnerships: Delta forged partnerships last year with Mayo Clinic, Emory University, Purell and Reckitt, the makers of Lysol Pro Solutions®, and continues to work closely with them to review the latest science and enhance or adjust cleanliness protocols accordingly.


Gaining Altitude is a new series from Delta that tackles conversations worth navigating, connecting people while building understanding across the globe. CEO Ed Bastian hosts one-on-one live conversations with insightful leaders about topics that matter.

From transformational leadership to employee-first culture and the importance of knowing your personal values, the first three episodes have featured meaningful life lessons with General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra, Union Square Hospitality Group CEO and Shake Shack Founder Danny Meyer, and Walker and Company Brands CEO Tristan Walker.

Catch the next episode with Jopwell CEO and co-founder Porter Braswell at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 27. Discover all the episodes and watch live at delta.com/gainingaltitude.
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