DEFINITION of Richard H. Anderson

Richard H. Anderson is an American businessman who has made a career out of helping companies in the transportation sector. His past career highlights include the CEO positions at Northwest Airlines and Delta Airline. In 2013 he was awarded the Tony Jannus Award for distinguished service in the commercial airline industry, and in 2015 was named Aviation Week’s “Person of the Year.” During his tenure as the CEO of Delta Airlines, Anderson was the prime mover behind the Delta – Northwest merger, and therefore responsible for creating the world’s largest airline.  

BREAKING DOWN Richard H. Anderson

Anderson was born in 1955 in Galveston, Texas. His parents died when he was twenty and left him to take care of his two younger sisters. He took a job as a ditch digger at an oil refinery to support them and began pursuing an undergraduate degree at Texas Tech and the University of Houston, graduating from there in 1977 with a degree in political science. In 1982 he graduated from South Texas College of Law and took a job in the prosecutor’s office in Harris County, Texas.

Rise of 'Richard H. Anderson'

Richardson had no aims towards a corporate career, but in 1987 a neighbor tipped him that Continental Airlines had a position open in their legal department and Richardson applied. Richardson was hired and served as the company’s legal representative for a crash that took place, putting Richardson in the industry spotlight. 

In 1990, Richardson took a job with Northwest Airlines as the deputy general counsel, specializing in labor issues and government regulations, a position that provided him deep knowledge of the workings of the company and the airline industry in general. By 2001, he worked his way up the ladder to the company’s CEO position, only to leave the company and the airline industry to take a position as Executive Vice President of United Healthcare from 2004-2007. Anderson returned to the industry in 2007 to join Delta Airlines and with his experience with both Northwest and Delta, he was able to successfully bring them both together to form the world’s largest airline. 

In 2017, Anderson became the President and CEO of Amtrak in a three-year contract that provides Anderson with a salary of zero. It is believed that Anderson’s previous experience in airlines will help the passenger railroad industry giant, which has suffered cutbacks from Congress and unsure financing for its new expansion in New York. It is possible that he can receive a performance bonus from the board of directors of $500,000, but otherwise, his compensation will be zero.