Not a bad retirement fund: ex-CEO collects $72 million of Delta stock

Former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson walked away with more than $72 million in stock last year, the Atlanta airline disclosed Friday.

The total, disclosed in Delta's proxy filing Friday afternoon, included $64.8 million from Anderson's exercise in 2016 of stock options that he had received as part of his pay over several years heading Delta. The transactions allowed him to convert the options into Delta stock.

Anderson, who retired on May 2 last year, also received $7.3 million worth of stock that “vested,” or converted to his ownership after a few years. Anderson received those stock awards as part of his compensation from 2013 to 2015.

Anderson “chose to wait until he retired from the CEO role to exercise any of his stock options. These options were within two years of expiring,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said in an emailed statement. He said Anderson’s stock options and restricted stock awards, like those of other executives, were part of Delta’s “pay for performance … philosophy.”

Anderson’s pay dropped from $15.8 million in 2015 to $5.4 million in 2016 because he worked for Delta only a little over four months of last year before he retired.

For the same reason, Ed Bastian saw a big jump in pay last year, to $12.6 million, when he took over as Delta's CEO on May 2. His pay in 2015, when he was Delta's president, totaled $9.0 million.

Bastian’s 2016 pay included more than $2.2 million in salary and bonus and $10 million in stock and option awards.

Like Anderson, Bastian also collected a substantial stash of Delta shares last year — $13.2 million worth — through exercising options and vesting of earlier stock awards.

“All Delta employees share in the success of the company when it performs well,” said Durrant. “For 2016, Delta paid out $1.1 billion in profit sharing to 80,000 employees worldwide, in addition to increases in 401(k) contributions and other benefits.”

Delta posted a $4.4 billion profit in 2016, down slightly from $4.5 billion in 2015, as the carrier was pressured by higher fuel costs and pay increases to pilots and other employees.

— Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report.