Airline History

Delta Air Lines’ extended history of service actually began in agriculture, when the company was founded in 1924 in Macon Georgia by C. E. Woolman as the world’s first aerial crop dusting organization — Huff Daland Dusters. This was a result of a devastating infestation of boll weevils that devastated the cotton fields of the Southern United States. Since the dusting company had an income only during summer months, Woolman decided to travel to Peru during non-productive months to Peru where seasons are reversed.

It was in Peru that Woolman first learning more information on passenger services, and he successfully secured South American airmail rights over stiff competition to become the first American airline operator south of the equator in the western hemisphere. In 1928 changed the name to Delta Air Lines, having previously moved to Monroe Louisiana in 1925. The name Delta, referring to the Mississippi Delta, was suggested by Catherine Fitzgerald, a secretary of the company.

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On June 17, 1929, over an original route that stretched from Dallas, Texas, to Jackson, Mississippi, with stops in Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana, Delta passenger flights were now in the works. In 1930, Delta Air Corporation expanded eastward to include service to Atlanta, the fastest-growing city in the South, and westward to Fort Worth, Texas. Delta played a crucial role in Atlanta’s rise as an international city and commercial hub.

In 1930 when the Post Office awarded a monumental airmail route to American Airlines, Delta’s lack of success in winning this crucial commercial airmail contract jeopardized its existence, and the company suspended passenger service. A second chance came for Delta when Woolman secured a low-bid contract for the new Route 33 airmail service between Dallas and Charleston, South Carolina, via Atlanta. In August of that same year Delta resumed passenger services, with a route from Charleston, SC to Fort Worth, with stops in Columbia, SC, Augusta, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Meridian.

On December 24, 1940, the first Delta DC-3 aircraft to carry passengers, took to the skies on a revenue flight for the first time and flight attendants, called “stewardesses,” were added to flight crews. It would serve with Delta until 1958, and it’s now in Delta’s flight museum. In 1940 Delta officially moved its HUB from Monroe Louisiana to Atlanta Georgia. Until 1941 Delta’s network was an unbranched string of twelve cities from Fort Worth to Charleston SC.

That December it scheduled ten departures a day at Atlanta: three to Ft Worth, one to Birmingham and two each to Cincinnati, Charleston and Savannah. Those ten flights and their returns were Delta’s whole schedule. In 1990, Delta became the first U. S. airline to operate the McDonnell Douglass MD-11 aircraft. Delta expanded dramatically by purchasing most of Pan Am’s European routes after Pan Am declared bankruptcy in 1991. The Pan Am transaction gave Delta the largest transatlantic route network among U.

S. airlines. Because of these acquisitions, Delta became and remains the largest U. S. transatlantic carrier, in terms of passengers carried and number of flights operated. In June 1993, Delta by established international code sharing. By combining with other airlines around the globe, service has expanded to include more than 350 cities in over 55 countries. In 1998, Delta made aviation history by carrying over 105 million passengers, breaking the company’s previous record of 103 million set in 1997.

With the major change in air regulations and rising fuel costs, Delta filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 14, 2005. Ironically, a major rival carrier Northwest Airlines also filed that same day via a filing with the same court. Delta and Northwest eventually merged several years later, after both companies had restructured and had emerged from bankruptcy, with Delta as the surviving airline. Based on several new initiatives, Delta projected a return to profitability by late 2007. Delta would eventually reach this goal of full year profitability in 2007.

By constantly moving forward strategically, continually opening new flights, seeking business associates, and offering the great customer service, it has become one of the successful competitors in civil aviation. Today, Delta Air Lines operates extensive domestic and international flights which includes North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean. In 2009, it started providing flights between Sydney and Los Angeles, making it the only American airlines to have flights in every continent except Antarctica.