Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines, Inc., typically referred to as Delta, is one of the major airlines of the United States and a legacy carrier. It is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The airline, along with its subsidiaries and regional affiliates, including Delta Connection, operates over 5,400 flights daily and serves 325 destinations in 52 countries on six continents. Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.
Delta has nine hubs, with Atlanta being its largest in terms of total passengers and number of departures. It is ranked second among the world’s largest airlines by number of scheduled passengers carried, revenue passenger-kilometers flown, and fleet size. It is ranked 69th on the Fortune 500. The company slogan is “Keep Climbing.”
|Founded||March 2, 1925
(as Huff Daland Dusters)
Macon, Georgia, U.S.
|Commenced operations||June 17, 1929|
|Fleet size||750 (as of 31 December 2020)|
|Destinations||325 (as of 22 December 2019)|
|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Key people||C.E. Woolman (founder)
Ed Bastian (CEO)
Glen Hauenstein (President)
Joanne Smith (E.V.P. & Chief People Officer)
|Revenue||US$47.007 billion (2019)|
|Operating income||US$6.618 billion (2019)|
|Net income||US$4.767 billion (2019)|
|Total assets||US$64.532 billion (2019)|
|Total equity||US$15.358 billion (2019)|
Delta Air Lines’ history begins with the world’s first aerial crop dusting operation called Huff Daland Dusters, Inc. The company was founded on March 2, 1925, in Macon, Georgia before moving to Monroe, Louisiana in summer 1925. It flew a Huff-Daland Duster, the first true crop duster, designed to combat the boll weevil infestation of cotton crops. C.E. Woolman, general manager and later Delta’s first CEO, led a group of local investors to acquire the company’s assets. Delta Air Service was incorporated on December 3, 1928, and named after the Mississippi Delta region.
Passenger operations began on June 17, 1929, from Dallas, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, with stops at Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana. By June 1930, service had extended east to Atlanta and west to Fort Worth, Texas. Passenger service ceased in October 1930 when the airmail contract for the route Delta had pioneered was awarded to another airline, which purchased the assets of Delta Air Service. Local banker Travis Oliver, acting as a trustee, C.E. Woolman, and other local investors purchased back the crop-dusting assets of Delta Air Service and incorporated as Delta Air Corporation on December 31, 1930.
Delta Air Corporation secured an air mail contract in 1934, and began doing business as Delta Air Lines over Mail Route 24, stretching from Fort Worth, Texas, to Charleston, South Carolina. Delta moved its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana, to its current location in Atlanta in 1941. The company name officially became Delta Air Lines in 1945. In 1946, the company commenced regularly scheduled freight transport. In 1949, the company launched the first discounted fares between Chicago and Miami. In 1953, the company launched its first international routes after the acquisition of Chicago and Southern Air Lines. In 1959, it was the first airline to fly the Douglas DC-8. In 1960, it was the first airline to fly Convair 880 jets. In 1964, it launched the Deltamatic reservation systems using computers in the IBM 7070 series. In 1965, Delta was the first airline to fly the McDonnell Douglas DC-9.
Growth and acquisitions
By 1970, Delta had an all-jet fleet, and in 1972 it acquired Northeast Airlines. Trans-Atlantic service began in 1978 with the first nonstop flights from Atlanta to London. In 1981, Delta launched a frequent-flyer program. In 1987, it acquired Western Airlines, and that same year Delta began trans-Pacific service (Atlanta-Portland, Oregon-Tokyo). In 1990, Delta was the first airline in the United States to fly McDonnell Douglas MD-11 jets. In 1991, it acquired substantially all of Pan Am‘s trans-Atlantic routes and the Pan Am Shuttle, rebranded as the Delta Shuttle. Delta was now the leading airline across the Atlantic.
In 1997, Delta was the first airline to board more than 100 million passengers in a calendar year. Also that year, Delta began an expansion of its international routes into Latin America. In 2003, the company launched Song, a low-cost carrier.
Bankruptcy and restructuring (2005–2007)
On September 14, 2005, the company filed for bankruptcy, citing rising fuel costs. It emerged from bankruptcy in April 2007 after fending off a hostile takeover from US Airways and its shares were re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Acquisition of Northwest Airlines (2008–2010)
The acquisition of Northwest Airlines was announced April 14, 2008. It was approved and consummated on October 29, 2008. Northwest continued to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta until December 31, 2009, when the Northwest Airlines operating certificate was merged into that of Delta. Delta completed integration with Northwest on January 31, 2010, when their computer reservations system and websites were combined, and the Northwest Airlines brand was officially retired.