Delta CFO cancels plans for retirement to help navigate virus crisis

Delta chief financial officer Paul Jacobson. Source: Delta Air Lines
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Delta chief financial officer Paul Jacobson. Source: Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines chief financial officer Paul Jacobson will put off retirement and stay to help the company work through the coronavirus crisis.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a memo that he asked Jacobson to reconsider his retirement, which was announced in late February.

At the time, the Atlanta-based company said Jacobson would stay on for several months while a successor is chosen and transitioned into the job. Bastian said then that he respected the decision of Jacobson, the youngest of Delta’s executive officers at the age of 48, “to move on to the next chapter in his career.”

On Tuesday, Bastian told employees that Jacobson had “agreed to rescind his retirement” and continue as CFO and executive vice president.

As part of the airline's cost cutting, Delta officers took 50% pay cuts through June 30. Directors and managing directors took 25% pay cuts, and ground workers and merit employees have also had their hours and total pay reduced by 25%. And 35,000 of Delta's 90,000 employees have agreed to take unpaid leave.

Jacobson has been CFO at Delta since 2012. Bastian also has served as CFO of Delta, has a background in finance and accounting and was chief restructuring officer during the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy from 2005 to 2007.

Under Jacobson's leadership, "we have boosted our liquidity through commercial markets and expanded our cash position to help us weather the storm in the months to come," Bastian told employees.

"Paul and his team have been instrumental in executing our strategy for cost reduction while forging the path ahead so that Delta is positioned to lead the industry when the recovery comes," Bastian wrote. He added that Jacobson played a crucial role in the strategy for recovery after Sept. 11, 2001 and "has been recognized numerous times as the industry's top CFO."

Jacobson attended Auburn University and joined Delta after earning a master’s of business administration from Vanderbilt University in 1997.