Last year, my colleagues at ATW sister publication Aviation Week & Space Technology selected Russian President Vladimir Putin as their person of the year. The guy whose thugs in Ukraine shot down an airliner that year, murdering 298 passengers and crew.
This year, they’ve selected Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson.
Anderson’s shoot-downs are verbal, of course, but like Putin, he has gained an industry reputation as a bit of a bully. On everything from the Gulf carriers, Ex-Im bank, US ATM reform, A4A trade association membership to the price of a used Boeing 777 (sending Boeing stock into a skydive), Anderson’s style is pugnacious and smacks of “my way or the highway”. This is the year that he also linked Gulf carriers with the 9/11 terrorists during an interview on CNN, a remark that shocked airline executives everywhere, including those of the US carriers that have aligned with Delta on the anti-Gulf carrier campaign.
Which I think is why he won the distinction (for the record, AW&ST is a sister publication, but I and no one else at ATW had any say in or prior knowledge of their selection). What AW&ST intends with this recognition is to highlight the person they feel has had the most influence on the aviation and aerospace industry, for good or bad, in a given year.
So this does not necessary “laud” Anderson: I’d welcome readers call on that. But I can’t help thinking that he, at least, will be very happy to follow in the wake of a Russian ogliarch.