ATLANTA, Jan. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When Lynda Lloyd boarded her first Delta Air Lines flight in Atlanta as a flight attendant in 1964, the airline had recently become the first commercial carrier to fly across the country in less than three hours and had just launched the industry's most sophisticated electronic reservations system, all under the watchful eye of company founder and then-chief executive C.E. Woolman.

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Today, Lloyd, Delta's most senior employee who lives and works in Atlanta, will join hundreds of her fellow Atlanta-based employees as well as elected, community and business leaders from across Georgia to mark the airline's 70th anniversary as Atlanta's hometown airline.

A Delta Boeing 777-200LR aircraft used to connect Atlanta nonstop to cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv, will be christened as the "Spirit of Atlanta" during a celebration at Delta's massive Technical Operations Center, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and in the shadow of the $1.4 billion Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal currently under construction.

Delta (NYSE: DAL), today among the largest airlines in the world, was 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 Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive. "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" will be christened at the celebration with a bottle of Coke. Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company, will be honored and make remarks at the celebration.

In addition, Lloyd will be honored as the Delta employee who has lived and worked in Atlanta the longest. The airline also will recognize its most frequent Atlanta flyer, Ed Robinette, who has flown nearly 7 million miles on Delta over the past 30 years, and Cheryll Davis, Delta's most active Atlanta-based community volunteer, who has dedicated thousands of hours during her 20-year Delta career to the airline's preferred local charities.

"As a longtime Atlanta resident it's been so exciting to be part of this airline, which is such a positive force for the community," Lloyd said. "It was the very best decision of my life, to come to Atlanta, remain here, and be a Delta Flight Attendant. I am still enjoying the very best job in the world. It always makes me proud when I tell people I work for Delta."

"Two years ago, I moved my business to Atlanta because of the great flights and service offered by Delta, and I'm not the only one, we have so many businesses based in Atlanta solely because of Delta," said Robinette, who has been a member of the Delta SkyMiles frequent flier program since its inception in 1981. "I've flown 7 million miles on Delta, and I can honestly say I don't remember a single bad experience."

"Delta has always encouraged its employees to become involved in our communities, and service is a big part of being a member of the Delta family," said Davis. "As an Atlanta resident, it's great that Delta is so supportive of our community, and it's one of the benefits of being Delta's hometown."

"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, R-Ga. "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. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 357 destinations in 67 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs more than 75,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. A founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance, Delta participates in the industry's leading trans-Atlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 13,000 daily flights, with hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York-JFK, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City and Tokyo-Narita. The airline's service includes the SkyMiles frequent flier program, the world's largest airline loyalty program; the award-winning BusinessElite service; and more than 50 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. 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

SOURCE Delta Air Lines