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Delta CEO Ed Bastian tried to answer questions about why former CEO Richard Anderson abruptly resigned as executive chairman. But it's still not really clear why Anderson stepped down so quickly after taking over.

Delta Air Lines Chairman Richard Anderson resigned Tuesday, surprising investors and industry insiders, but the airline’s CEO said Thursday the move was “all consistent with the plan.”

Anderson had been the carrier’s CEO from 2007 until May, when Ed Bastian, the airline’s then-president replaced him. In announcing that succession plan, the company said at the time that Anderson, who became executive chairman, would continue to be employed by Delta. He was to receive an annual base salary of $800,000.

At the time, Delta did not outline how long Anderson intended to serve, but Bastian suggested Thursday it was intended to be a short-term obligation. Anderson ended up leading the board for slightly more than five months.

“He has given myself as the new CEO and Frank Blake as the new lead director about six months of transition to make certain everything on the succession was going well,” Bastian said during Delta’s third quarter earnings call October 13. “We do think everything is going well, and he concluded it was his time to retire. This was fully anticipated.”

Blake, the former Chairman and CEO of The Home Depot, took over immediately as non-executive chairman after Anderson’s abrupt exit.

Anderson has not made any public comments since stepping down. But after announcing his retirement as CEO, he told the airline’s employees he had no plans other than to spend time with his wife and learn how to wade fish in Galveston Bay, according to Bloomberg. 

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Tags: delta air lines, Ed Bastian, Richard Anderson

Photo credit: Richard Anderson resigned this week as Delta's executive chairman. It was "all consistent with the plan," the airline's CEO said. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

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