History Of Delta Airlines
Delta Air Lines’ long history of service actually began
in agriculture, when the company was founded in 1924 as the world’s first
aerial crop dusting organization -- Huff Daland Dusters.
In fact, if the boll weevil had not marched out of Mexico prior to the turn of this century to devastate the cotton fields of the South, there might not have been a Delta Air Lines.
When the weevil’s relentless destruction reached the Mississippi Valley, such a serious economic threat faced the South that the Bureau of Entomology operated a laboratory in Tallulah, Louisiana, as the base for an intensified cotton insect investigation. Directing the activities at the laboratory was Dr. B. R. Extension Department of Coad, assisted by a young district agent with the Louisiana State University, C. E. Woolman.
Woolman, an agricultural engineering graduate of the
In 1923, fate gave the experiments a new future.
George Post, an executive of an Ogdensburg,
On May 30, 1925, Woolman left the Agriculture Extension
Service to take charge of Huff Daland’s entomological work as vice
president and field manager. To the company he brought a genial
personality, integrity and a stubborn resistance to failure -- traits
which have endured at Delta. The parent company, Huff Daland
Since the dusting company had an income only during summer
months, Woolman decided to shift operations during non-productive months
This represented a bold financial venture since the route
was operated without benefit of a mail contract, and revenue from
airmail was needed to supplement passenger operating expenses. The year
1930 brought news that the Post Office Department had awarded the badly
needed airmail contract for the Southern route to a rival airline.
Dusting operations were expanded and Dr. Coad joined Delta as chief
In 1934, Delta had an opportunity to win back the route it
had pioneered from
While Delta was busy developing its Southern route, three
other pioneer airlines, each destined to play key roles in Delta’s
future, were developing: two in the West and one in the Northeast.
Chicago and Southern Air Lines (C&S) became part of Delta through a
merger in 1953. Northeast Airlines merged with Delta in 1972.
Western Air Lines was merged into Delta in 1987.
While walking down a
In 1934, the Post Office Department’s call for new bids on
all airmail routes gave Putnam hope for financial stability, and he
sought one of these contracts. When his bid for the Chicago-New
Orleans route won, he shifted operations to the
The first company headquarters were located in a hangar on
a hay field at
The first passengers were carried, riding on folding seats
in the mail compartment, on May 3, 1926, from
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Western began to regroup
by operating in conjunction with United Air Lines as "through" flights.
National Park Airways became a part of Western in 1937, expanding the
company into the
Like many airlines in the early 1950s, C&S began to
consider the prospect of a merger as a method of expanding its route
system. With the complementary character of Delta and C&S’s
combined route maps and the fact that both companies shared a common
business philosophy, a merger appeared natural. On May 1, 1953,
the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) formally transferred the routes of
While Delta was setting the industry lead in jet service,
Northeast, too, was busy introducing jets. In 1959 the airline
became one of the first
In the late 1960s, Northeast received several new routes,
but its financial problems failed to improve. It was these
difficulties that led to the search for a merger partner, and on August
1, 1972, the merger between Delta and Northeast Airlines became
effective. Meanwhile, Western expanded its route system to the
international destinations of
Delta’s route system expanded considerably in the 1970s,
not only through the Northeast merger, but also through a series of
route awards by the CAB. Delta’s first transatlantic route was
inaugurated April 30, 1978, from
For Western, deregulation led to financial difficulties.
In early 1984, Western was losing one million dollars a day and its
future looked bleak. But by 1985, the airline made nearly a $100
million turnaround. On September 9, 1986, Delta and Western
announced a merger agreement providing for Delta’s acquisition of
Western. Operations of the two airlines were merged April 1, 1987.
In 1991, Delta acquired the transatlantic routes of a bankrupt Pan Am
and became a major provider of service across the
Delta demonstrated it’s pioneering spirit once again in June 1993 by establishing 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 70 years of experience and a renewed commitment to customer satisfaction, Delta now aims to be the best airline in the world. Legal Issues
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