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American Express Continues In Partnership With Conversation Series With Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian

Glenda McNeal, President of Enterprise Strategic Partnerships leads the discussion on the importance of trust, Bastian’s path to CEO, and what it takes to be a leader in the airline industry


American Express (NYSE:AXP) today released a new episode of the In Partnership With conversation series, pairing Glenda McNeal, President of Enterprise Strategic Partnerships at American Express, with CEOs across the company’s roster of strategic partners to discuss modern leadership. The discussion with Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, identifies how Bastian manages the numerous challenges of the airline industry, explores his approach to managing through crises, and dives into his insights on the modern traveler.

American Express’s relationship with Delta dates back 66 years. The partnership has evolved significantly over the decades, with the two organizations creating a suite of Cobrand Cards, including the limited-edition Boeing 747 card design, and innovating to drive value and growth as traveler needs change.  

The conversation explores trust and collaboration as foundational elements of the strategic partnership.

Bastian says, “I consider American Express our closest partner. These are two brands that… are exclusive to each other, we like each other, and our customers are the same people. [A few] years ago we really started to change the [strategic approach] to our shared customers… and the thing has exploded in terms of the impact.”

The conversation also covers how Bastian learned that becoming CEO was a possibility, how he manages a crisis, and the importance of having people who believe in you.

Bastian says, “someone said to me, you should work for an airline, you travel so much. And I thought that was actually an interesting idea… certainly as a customer I did. But when you get behind the curtain, it’s a lot more complicated… I like a challenge. Travel, hospitality, the airline industry – they are usually where the fires are occurring. When we are successful, it’s incredible. Having that ability to overcome obstacles is a big part of it… but it’s the people that make a difference.”

To close the conversation, Bastian shares insights on the modern traveler as demand continues.  

Bastian adds, “demand [for travel] is really, really high. We talk about ‘pent up,’ but I don’t think pent up even begins to describe what we’re seeing. The planes are full, they are going to stay full. We’ve had the 20 highest cash sales days in our history all occur this year. I think this is going to continue to stay strong for some time to come.”


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