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K. Evan Plaskett ‘97
Manager-Transatlantic Joint Venture
International Network Planning,
Delta Air Lines

Evan Plaskett

“When I came onboard at Delta in 1998, a fellow '97 Patterson alum recalled the first conversation we ever had. Standing together at Dr. Vince Davis' cookout for new students, he had asked where I hoped to go after graduation. My undergraduate studies were in French, international affairs and math, with no formal business training whatsoever. Nevertheless, I mused that "it might be interesting to work for an airline and help decide where they should fly." Two years later, thanks to the new skills and perspectives I developed at Patterson, my career took off in precisely that direction.

If someone speaks of an American, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, an Italian, and an airplane, what's often expected next are some poignant cultural stereotypes and a tale of too few parachutes. For me, what comes next is tough international bargaining, serious number crunching and a profitable solution for all involved. Delta has a joint venture with Air France, KLM and Alitalia under which we share all revenues and costs on our North America-Europe networks. My responsibility is ensuring that our aircraft assets are deployed as profitably as possible. Success here calls for exceptional diplomatic tradecraft. Each carrier brings its own history, culture and strengths to the table, placing a premium on cross-cultural understanding and solid negotiation skills. While we don't always agree on everything, the ability to work through our different viewpoints to arrive at the best overall bottom line has made this joint venture more effective and more profitable (JV annual revenue is now over $11 billion, with about 250 transatlantic flights daily – 26% of total industry capacity).

Being able to shift gears on the fly and be knowledgeable about many parts of the company and the world is something I attribute to Patterson's multidisciplinary approach. The program developed my ability to apply critical thinking and analytical skills to the wide variety of situations that I face everyday in the corporate world. Whether forecasting a new transoceanic route or helping our Government Affairs and Legal teams prepare positions to present to the Department of Transportation, the European Commission and other regulatory agencies, my training has delivered. Understanding political risk has been particularly important when considering new service into developing regions. I must engage Corporate Security and Flight Operations to be certain our aircraft can operate safely and reliably into and out of these potential new stations before Delta commits to opening them. In times of upheaval (like Cairo in early 2011), I work closely with colleagues from these and other departments to assess the long-term viability of our services in crisis-impacted markets.

I'm exceptionally glad I chose the Patterson School for my graduate education. Its unique curriculum and the skills that I acquired there continue to play a very significant role in my career success. Diplomacy and international commerce. That's my job.”

DELTA KLM AirFrance logo Evan Plaskett and Patterson School students at Delta Operations Control Center, Atlanta DELTA KLM AirFrance plane

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Aga Khan Foundation
American Airlines
Associated Press
Azerbaijan Central Bank
Babcock International
Banco Itaú SA
Bank of America
Bertlesmann Foundation
Blessed Earth
Catholic Relief Services
Chamber of Commerce
Chemonics International
Conservation International
CV Starr
Defense Intelligence Agency
Delta Air Lines
Deutsche Bank AG
Diplomatic Security
Dun & Bradstreet
Economist Intelligencer Unit
Fifth Third Bank
General Accountability Office
General Cable
General Electric
Grameen Bank
Human Rights Watch
JP Morgan Chase
Krispy Kreme
Lexmark International
ManTech International
Ministry of Economics
Ministry of Finance
Nestlé SA
New America Foundation
Northrop Grumman
One Acre Fund
Open Society Foundations
Peace Corps
Pew Research
Podesta Group
Price Waterhouse Coopers
Rabobank Group
Royal Bank of Canada
Thomson Reuters
Transparency International
Tysons Foods
United Nations
United Technologies
US Air Force
US Department of Commerce
US Department of Defense
US Department of State
US Department of Treasury
US House of Representatives
US Navy
US Senate
White House
World Bank
World Food Program
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Patterson School | 455 POT, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | 859-257-4666

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