Dave Holtz and Morgan Durrant

Dave Holtz (DH):  I started back in 1979 with this fine company, 37 years now.  Actually started dumping labs 10 or 12 years out in the stations, doing about every below-wing and above-wing thing that you could do, which I wouldn't trade that for all the education and master's degrees in the world, although I certainly could use those.   [LAUGHTER]  But it's just been a great experience understanding what goes on out there and getting an appreciation for what the customer feels, and what our internal customers, the employees, feel out there.  So it's been a really fun beginning, even though it seems like 101 years ago.

Morgan Durrant (MD): So what was your moment of truth to know that you really wanted a career at Delta, you know, in the airline industry?  Was it, hey, you're dumping a lab one day and blue water went everywhere, and you're, like, "No, this is where I belong?"  Or what was it? [LAUGHTER]

DH:   I had a lot of blue juice on me up in Chicago where it's very, very windy.  But I can honestly say that that was as satisfying to work that job as it is to work my job today, and just about every job in between.  So there's an appreciation for what people do in this great company to put things together at all levels of the company.  And I enjoyed my frontline work as much, if not more sometimes, than the leadership work that I've done lately.

MD:   Talk about how decision-making - how you approach it.  What's your philosophy?  How much of it is science versus art?

DH:  The biggest piece is you've got to come up with a customer-first decision-making or a customer-first solution.  So you've got to put yourself--you know, the famous Delta quote from C. E. Woolman--put yourself on the other side of the counter.  And you've got to design processes that work at the customer level first.  And if it works for the customer, then you can figure out how to refine that process even further for our internal customers and how we deliver it.

MD:   Let's talk a little bit about Brussels and the emergency response and planning team that handles all of that, which reports up to you.  Can you just talk a little bit about how that group rallied together and responded to the tragedy in Brussels recently?

DH:   The emergency management team that I'm fortunate enough, blessed enough, to have report up to me is second to none.  They are looked at across the industry as the leaders.  There are so many good letters that we receive from the loved ones and the customers who were lost during the Brussels event, or injured, that talked to and spoke to the Delta difference as customers had to travel after they found out about their loved ones, and go places.  There was letters and comments--"About everywhere I turned, and I seemed to scratch my head, I didn't know where to go, a Delta person popped up and answered my questions and got in front of it, and helped squire me through to make sure I was always in the right place.  There was never a question to be asked."   We made sure that they were fed and clothed, whatever they needed, that they had money in their hands, to make sure that they were able to just concentrate on the well-being of their loved one, and not have to worry about any of those logistics.  So it takes a great big team to do that, and a lot of people, a lot of focus.  In the midst of

tragedy and chaos that was a real shining moment for the Delta team, and the leadership team is very proud of those people.

MD:   What's the top place on your list you haven't been to and you want to go?

DH:  I want to get to Fiji, Tahiti, somewhere down there.  You know, you see those huts where you stay out over the water.  I think I just want to go out there and decompress for about six days.  Doing nothing over a lagoon sounds fabulous to me.