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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  December 11, 2019 9:00pm-9:30pm EST

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>> why doesn't wall street value airlines as much as they should? >> our largest investor is warren buffett. he says you guys are the chicago the business world. you have not had a bad decade, you have had a bad century. >> what percentage of people actually lose their luggage? >> we never lose it, it is mishandled. mepeople would not recognize .
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>> i don't consider myself a journalist. nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interview or even being i have a day job of -- running a private equity firm. what is it that makes somebody check? people say that running an airline is not an easy thing to do. with,ve whether to deal energy crisis, lots of employees. our family was great. i am the oldest of nine. myn i was five years old, mom and i already had six kids in the house.
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1.5 beds, my mom worked for him. it was not that busy of the practice at times. >> he must've had some gaps in the schedule. >> the interesting thing about i did that growing up, not board and are plane until i was 25 years old. we could not afford it. i always recall one of the most stark visuals of my childhood there were no seatbelts, there were no car seats. they were not of us. my mom, my dad, my grandmother all in a station wagon. whateverllowed to put we wanted into our pillowcase. temp -- our family
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family trip. >> your mother must be proud is the ceo of delta airlines. that is the largest u.s. air carrier. >> the largest in the world. >> the she ever call you with ideas? >> all the time. i always asked her to never tell anybody who she is. she was after the little safety end ofement i do at the the plan. coach. fly >> what about the leg room? >> the leg room is fine. what you find what you are flying coach is it is more entertaining. you don't worry about your leg room. that is where the real people
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are, that is where the party is. >> let's talk about running an airline. there are a lot of people saying if you want to run an airline or a big business and work your way up to be a management expert but you were trained as an , let's say some of the best managers in the what are not cpas. ed: i think that accountants get a bad rap. it is said they are all about the numbers. david: wall street is not valuing airlines the revision. why don't they value them the way that you think they should? moving in that direction. our largest investor is warren buffett. after years of have is one of the industry, he had a saying
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that i loved. he said you guys are the chicago cubs of the business world. you not only had a bad decade, you had a bad century. we got our bad century out of the way. we are now in a place where we have really fixed the business. david: he used to say that if a capitalist had been at kitty hawk, he would have shot them down because there was no profits made in the airline industry for 100 years. it has changed now. ed: he would not say that now. this year will be the fifth year in a row that our profits will be in excess of $5 billion. david: what percentage is in the united states and what percentage outside? ed: two thirds in the u.s. and one third outside. international is a lot more difficult to get to. the planes are bigger. the fuel costs more. the service level is substantially higher.
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ticket prices because there is a are lessmpetition profitable. we make any percent of our profit at home. % of our profit at home. own a why do you refinery? you don't trust people to get gas to you? ed: we do but prices were north of $100. we saw that our cost of jet fuel was escalating and we were paying another $25 per barrel on top of the crew price just again jet fuel because we are the most consumers.sitive -- any of the costs that the refineries have are pushed onto the airline. we have a great refinery outside of philadelphia. we opened it, it was closed for
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about a year. we put a whole community back to work. it was a great story. we have earned returns on that manyfold. david: in the 1970's, there was a big push for airline deregulation. we then had probably 10 or 12 major domestic airlines. now we have more or less three or four. has deregulation worked? ed: absolutely it has. one of the changes that happened in the industry was that we were just seeing a commodity. price was like the sole determinant. we had change that paradigm to where we are competing on quality, service and people. david: say i want a cheap price but i want some good food. his food a big deal to people that fly these days? ed: food is important.
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the industry wind up getting rid of food. basically anything and wound up charging fees galore. cabine reintroduced main food services. international is really improving. david: say i want a cheap there. can i bring my own food on? ed: you can. david: i just want to make sure my luggage is not lost. what percentage of people actually was there luggage? ed: we never do. we call it mishandled. [applause] [laughter] ed: we always know where it is, sometimes it just takes us a little longer to get to. david: as an airline executive, you have two companies you can buy planes from. ed: two of them. not more or less. david: i was trying to be nice.
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-- your longest flight is 17 hours. that is a boeing 777? ed: yes. david: you chose not to buy the symmetry seven max. -- by the boeing 737 max -- you chose not to purchase the boeing 737 max. was that smart because you have the airbus? ed: we are big fans of boeing. we hope to see the max fly again but that was never part of the consideration. david: u.s. air said that we want to take you over. was that from the at the time? ed: everyone thought that was going to be a foregone conclusion. the people at the company stood and said it would not happen.
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david: you grew up in poughkeepsie, new york. you went to college where? ed: saint barnabas university. quickly through
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the rest there. at 32 ortner to early 33 years old. in that profession, that was the gicquel -- pinnacle of success. to continue to develop. i got a call from a friend that said pepsi was hiring. a personuced me to down in texas, down in dallas. i have always considered to this my my training at pepsico as postgraduate work. it is fascinating. david: summary at headhunters said what about delta airlines? ed: yes. i was an active traveler. i already thought i knew how the airlines worked and all the things that needed to be fixed. youourse, i get there and
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actually take up peek behind the curtains to see how complex it is and you say i never understood what actually went into it. it was an industry that was fascinating to me. i was a big consumer of it. david: you became the senior vice president for finance. that you became the chief financial officer. then you became the president. then you became the ceo in may of 2016. ed: that is right. david: you had some problems before you became the ceo and ultimately, delta filed for bankruptcy in 2005. but as you have to file for bankruptcy? ed: it was the aftermath of a series of events that 9/11 triggered. the competition in the u.s. was so competitive. some airlines were trying to take each other shares. ed: while you're in bankruptcy, u.s. air said you wanted -- they want to take you over.
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david: doug parker will never live that down. ed: it is a pretty interesting story. offered $10e in and billion to buy delta. it was for a company that is not worth anything. i thought that would be a foregone conclusion. the people of the company stood and said it is not going to happen. we have a better idea, a better business plan. we did this to stay with delta. as a result, we stated. >> you said to the employees we will give you 10% of the profits. is that more or less correct? ed: when we went through the restructuring, people took a lot of pickups. there was a lot of change. we made a commitment to the employees at that point once we became profitable. 15% of the profits would go back to the people that we honored to this day.
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what ed: did ed: that produce last year for the employees? -- david: what did that produce last year for the employees? ed: $1.3 billion. i figure stock be lower if we did not pay it. david: is internet available on all of your plans? ed: almost. jetsmallest regional don't. i am a firm believer that we have to make wi-fi free. we are working toward that. youd: you are the ceo so present we have some influence. ed: i do. our service provider, i call them go-go, have made a lot of progress. they have gone from slow-go to go-go. -- pay forlay internet anywhere house.
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it is that planes don't have the technical capacity and capability yet that if we made it for free, the system would crash. takehe gets about a 10% rate on board, performance starts to erode. for free, we it on have tested it many times but it is not ready. david: we can fly to the moon and back but we can't have everybody using internet on the plane? ed: you sound like me. one of the things i tell people is that we are closer to the satellites in the sky, why shouldn't it work better? but they reminded me that we are not traveling 500 miles per hour. >> a lot of people don't like people talking on their cell phones on the plane. ed: that was voted down by me. whether that faa allows it or
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not, we are not doing it. [applause] david: we have not built in import of any size says 22 or 23 years in denver. now, laguardia is being redone. >> we are building airports ourselves. we got tired of waiting for the government partnerships that are out there trying to crack the code. we have massively improved the flight experience and the onboard experience. the airports in our country were built for the 1960's. >> you are building airports square. -- airports square. ed: this is the most difficult construction that is done. you have to build it and live it and operated. we are building a new airport in seattle.
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we have modernized atlanta. david: you have been an advocate for not allowing airlines that have government subsidies to compete against you. is that a big problem? ed: it is. i have to give the trump administration great credit for recognizing that in reaching agreements with the uae to try to draw attention to it and stop it. it is freezing where it is at. david: are they doing anything about it? what will happen? ed: they are being responsive to the administration. gulf, in the persian there are 30 airplanes per day that fly between the persian gulf and united states. not one by the u.s. airlines. if there was a fair playing question theis no u.s. airlines would be operating and saying we can't because those bears are subsidized.
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david: the air traffic control system, some would say it was invented in the 1950's and 60's and we have not modernized it that much. is it that out of date? flawed.s safe but it is many cars have better gps in their cars then what we can access and our plans. we are trying to not only improve speed for customers but it is the efficiency and the sustainability of the environment. government dysfunction has been one of the reasons why. five-yeare faa on a probation. we have been advocate for some different models that go after a long-term technology project. most countries around what have better air traffic control systems. when we went through our hard times, we did not have a lot of cash.
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we decided the only way we would ever be successful again was if -- if we can reconnect with those people.
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david: what do you do for outside activities? this is a full-time job but do you have any time for anything else? ed: i love to golf. i don't get much time but i do enjoy that. we do serious work. we do hard work. i think it is important to not to take myself too seriously. it is a reminder to stay light on my feet.
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to remember the importance of given interaction. i did also run the new york marathon last year. david: in two hours? ed: that was the first few miles. i were my delta colors loud and proud. we rose money for cancer research. doingt think i will be another one of those. i am still feeling the effects. ed: you have a pattern of meeting with employees -- david: you have a pattern of meeting with employees. ed: why we went through our hard times, we did not have a lot of cash. people were actually taking pickups. we decided the only way we would ever be successful again was we
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would have to reconnect with our people. our people were downtrodden, years of pay losses. all of the difficult things we remembered from 20 years ago. in downtown atlanta, there was an abandoned macy's building. we decided to take out a couple of floors. i am not sure that we ever even paid for it. we would bring our employees and we brought all of our employees six or 700 at a time for a day and 1.5 days to talk about airlines. we had no power points, we had no slides. -- wet it from being deliberately kept it from being as on corporate as possible. we have the light as people were walking in. people come into the room and see some of our people dancing around and trying to lighten up the mood. no wonder we were bankrupt they probably thought. we had a crisis on our hands.
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what it did is it got their attention to focus on what is really important. our people wanted to know it was not their fault that we went through the hard times. so often when companies go through difficult times, employees are made to feel like they are the reason they are too expensive. they are not productive enough. we do these meetings to this day. we can afford -- would pay for our own space and nice hotel lobbies and other spaces but we have a dozen of them a year all around the u.s.. we bring people from different disciplines and we talk about the future. that engagement is so critical. david: how do you grow the value of your airline? do you make it more profitable by buying more miles -- fly more miles? do you make acquisitions? manyhere aren't that
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places in the u.s. left to fly to. global expansion is something that was very important to us. all, i think people are more aware of the world. people want to travel and experience. it is interesting. we are living in as divisive a time as we can recall. it would hurt airline travel. technology and social media and instagram and pictures, people want to go and explore and see for themselves something may have read about. now they feel it is important. opportunity is not only for the millennials but also baby boomers and everyone else. david: i would focus more on the baby boomers bucket list. they will have to do those sooner than the millennials. david: suppose the president of
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the united states set i watch this interview, you are an impressive person, what if you -- said that i watch this interview, you are an impressive person, why don't you come work in the government and help us out? ed: i would say i have a lot to do a delta. david: what is an advantage? an advantage of working in delta? ed: free travel. we do not have desk jobs. our desk job is in the sky. every day, your work environment is different. you have different people coming through. you have to adapt and you think about why people travel. people travel for all reasons. happy reasons, said reasons, business, pleasure, to go explore, meet their grandchild for the first time. there is all this emotion that is in this tube of roughly 200
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people sitting within 40 yards of one another. it is a social experience as well. people that actually want to make the world better, it is attractive.
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>> minouche shafik knows what of economics and finance. she was the youngest president at the raw bank before becoming to rapidly director the imap. at the bank of england she was responsible for balance sheets of nearly 500 billion pounds. fords named her one of the most powerful women on the globe. now she is back to the world of academia as the director of the world renowned london school of economics. hereptember i spoke with


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