By PR Newswire & Staff Writers
Delta Air Lines celebrated 70 years Friday, Jan. 21, in Atlanta with a lot of dignitaries, officials, former and current employees, and business and community leaders from across Georgia. The occasion, held at the massive Delta Technical Operations Center adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, marked the airline’s 70th anniversary as Atlanta’s hometown airline.
The airline has come a long way since longtime employee Lynda Lloyd boarded her first Delta flight in Atlanta as a flight attendant in 1964, shortly after the airline became the first commercial carrier to fly across the country in less than three hours. Delta also had just launched the industry’s most sophisticated electronic reservations system, under the watchful eye of founder and then chief executive C.E. Woolman.
Lloyd, Delta’s most senior employee, joined hundreds of her fellow Atlanta-based employees at the celebration that attracted many well-wishers. She, top volunteer Cheryll Davis and Delta Sky Miles frequent flier Ed Robinette, who has accumulated 7 million miles over the last 30 years, all received Delta model jets for their long time support.
In addition to key videos of Atlanta officials and community leaders, a Delta Boeing 777-200LR aircraft used to connect Atlanta nonstop to cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv, was christened as the “Spirit of Atlanta” during a celebration held in the shadow of the $1.4 billion Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal currently under construction.
Today among the largest airlines in the world, Delta started out as a small carrier focused on the Southeast when it moved its headquarters from Monroe, La., to Atlanta in 1941. In the decades that followed, Delta built the world’s largest connecting hub in Atlanta, and for more than two decades has remained Georgia’s largest private employer and a major economic force in the region.
With 25,000 employees based in Atlanta, Delta is estimated to pump more than $25 billion into the local economy, and is a major contributor to key community organizations, including the Grady Health Foundation, the Woodruff Arts Center, AID Atlanta, Hands On Atlanta, Habitat for Humanity, CARE, the Carter Center and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“Delta Air Lines and Atlanta have a unique partnership that has been inextricably linked to the success and prosperity of our city and our airport for nearly three quarters of a century,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “The strong relationships among companies such as Delta, state and local elected officials and civic organizations are what make Atlanta not only a global, dynamic city, but a great place to live and do business. Congratulations to Delta Air Lines, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and all employees on the company’s 70th anniversary as Atlanta’s hometown airline.”
“Delta is truly an economic force for Georgia,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “It is our biggest employer and its presence here plays a key role in helping us attract new investment and jobs. I look forward to partnering with Delta as it sets out on the next 70 years.”
“The success of Delta and the city of Atlanta have been intertwined for seven decades, and it’s hard to argue with the results,” said Anderson. “Atlanta has grown into a major international city while Delta built the world’s largest hub at the city’s airport. Central to this success has been the historic partnership between Delta, the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and our thousands of Atlanta-based employees and customers.”
Recognizing one of Atlanta’s longest and most successful business partnerships, the “Spirit of Atlanta” was christened at the celebration with a bottle of Coke. Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of The Coca-Cola Company, was honored and make remarks at the celebration. Video speakers included former Mayor Andrew Young, University of Georgia Bulldogs Coach Mark Richt, Symphony Director Robert Spano, and Home Run King Hank Aaron.
“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Delta on its 70th anniversary as Atlanta’s hometown airline,” said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. “Delta Air Lines has come a long way since its beginnings in Monroe, La., to the international commercial airline it is today. For seven decades, Delta has thrived, employing thousands of Georgians and becoming an integral part of our communities. Delta has established itself as an economic engine not only for Georgia, but for the entire Southeast. I am grateful that such a company calls Atlanta its home.”
“As Georgians, we are all proud to be recognizing Delta’s 70th anniversary as our hometown airline,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. “Over the past seven decades, Delta has become an integral part of the community, bringing jobs, businesses and great opportunities to the state of Georgia by connecting us to cities across the country and the world.”
Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year and employs over 75,000. Delta is investing more than $2 billion through 2013 in airport facilities and global products, services and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at delta.com. A breakfast spread gave the VIP visitors a warm reception following the celebration.