Top Transportation Dept. lawyer leaving for Delta

"As we continue our focus on becoming a leading global carrier, we are fortunate to add Bob to our senior leadership team because of his diverse experience and unique combination of legal, business and policy acumen," said Delta chief executive Richard Anderson in a statement announcing the hire.

In his current post, Rivkin is responsible for the DOT's regulatory programs, including protecting airlines customers, as well as leading the department's team of lawyers and preparing legislation. He also directed the 2009 "Cash for Clunkers" auto voucher program, under which 700,000 cars were traded in, and levied the first fine against an airline for delay on a runway.

Rivkin is reportedly a longtime friend and political supporter of the President Obama and the first lady.

Before joining the federal government, Rivkin was the vice president and deputy general counsel of Aon Corporation, an insurance brokerage form based in Chicago, and from 2001 to 2004 served as the general counsel of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Delta, based in Atlanta, serves nearly 224 destinations in the United States and 59 countries around the world. It claims to fly customers to more destinations than any other airline.

Rivkin starts at the airline May 6.