While other companies pay out such bonuses, the size of Delta’s payout is unique, according to Bastian.
"For years, I would get beaten up by Wall Street. They thought the profits were theirs, and 'Why are you giving the profits away to the employees?'" Bastian said during remarks Monday at a Cobb Chamber event at the Roxy Theatre. "Wall Street has actually come full circle, and they realize that Delta is the most awarded airline in the world because of its employees."
Delta's payout was $1.3 billion last year and $1.1 billion in 2018 and 2017.
The $1.5 billion in 2016 was described by Delta as the largest profit sharing payout in corporate history.
For this year’s payout, the Atlanta-based company already had accrued nearly $1.3 billion toward its profit sharing payout in just the first three quarters of 2019, before the fourth quarter’s contribution.
The company expects to hire 6,000 to 7,000 people this year, and a total of about 25,000 over the next three or four years, Bastian said.
Bastian, 62, was named CEO in 2016. When asked on stage about advice for work-life balance, he acknowledged, "my world does not have a whole lot of balance."
But, he added, “I’m at a season where I’m at my peak. I’m never going to do another job in my life. This is it. And I’m having a blast with it. I love the people, and I love the challenge.”