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U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., paid tribute to Richard Anderson from the floor of the Senate Monday, praising the Delta CEO’s contributions to the airline industry and the American economy over the past nine years.

Isakson spoke days after the airline’s announcement that Anderson would retire in May, to be succeeded by longtime Delta President Ed Bastian.

“Richard took over Delta at a very critical time, in fact Delta was in desperate straits,” Isakson (right) told his colleagues. “Because of his work at Delta, he revitalized the culture of the company, he revitalized the aviation industry in Georgia and he made a mark for all of us to be proud of.” Isakson went on to praise Anderson for going to Washington to work with senators on legislation that helped save the pensions of employees at airlines across the country.

Isakson is a fixture in Georgia politics, having served in the Senate since 2005, the U.S. House before that and nearly 20 years in the state Legislature beginning in 1977. He has won wide respect in Washington for his genial manner and ability to build consensus across disparate political groups.

The senator said Anderson’s efforts led to the most prosperous year in Delta’s history and its most prosperous decade.

“As he announces he’s leaving Delta Air Lines and the aviation industry, I want to commend him for all he’s done to make Delta Air Lines and the state of Georgia great, all he’s done for the aviation industry and all he’s done for the economy of the greatest country on the face of the earth, the United States of America.”

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