MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines today joined officials from Memphis, Shelby County and the state of Tennessee to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first nonstop flight between Memphis International and Amsterdam Schiphol airports.
Since its launch on June 27, 1995, more than 2 million customers have flown Tennessee's sole nonstop flight to Europe, generating more than $2 billion in statewide economic impact.
"What started as a dream for a handful of Memphians has become a sustained economic boon for our region," said Arnold Perl, chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. "Over the last 15 years, we have worked closely with Delta and KLM to create a successful flight between Memphis and Amsterdam. Despite major challenges, including 9/11, the SARS outbreak, global conflicts and the economic recession, these airlines stayed true to their commitments to Memphis and maintained our passenger link to Europe season after season, year after year."
KLM began four weekly flights between Memphis and Amsterdam in June 1995, in cooperation with its joint venture partner Northwest Airlines. One year later, as passenger demand rose, the airlines expanded flights to daily as part of the summer 1996 schedule. The service between the cities has operated on a daily basis each summer since.
Delta took over the service after it completed its merger with Northwest late last year. Delta and Air France-KLM operate a joint venture across the Atlantic which allows the airlines to share costs and revenues from each of their trans-Atlantic routes.
"No trans-Atlantic route in America better demonstrates the value of long-term relationships between airlines and the communities they serve than Memphis to Amsterdam," said Charlie Pappas, Delta's managing director – Alliances. "Thanks to the support of community leaders, citizens and businesses, Memphis remains one of the only U.S. metropolitan areas with fewer than 1.5 million residents to enjoy year-round, unsubsidized nonstop service to Europe. We appreciate Memphis' continued loyalty to Delta, and we look forward to continuing to serve as the flagship airline for this community."
Added Henk de Graauw, KLM's director of Alliances: "When we launched service in 1995, Memphis, Shelby County and Tennessee officials hailed the route as the most coveted economic development opportunity in Memphis' history. Fifteen years and billions in dollars of economic impact later, we're proud that our investment here has paid off."
It is estimated that the Memphis-Amsterdam route has generated more than $2 billion in economic impact over 15 years and supports approximately 26,000 annual foreign visits to Tennessee, in addition to the impact of jobs, export, imports and foreign investments enabled.
"The economic and tourism ties between Tennessee and Europe are strong and have been growing stronger," said Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. "Daily service between Memphis and Amsterdam is an important linchpin of that relationship and as we seek to expand those ties, Delta and KLM are important partners for Tennessee in that effort."
Added Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.: "The City of Memphis is a world-class city and the success of this daily trans-Atlantic service is a testament to the place we hold in the world's tourism and business communities. Today's celebration of 15 years of service is a reflection of our city's continued international importance as America's Aerotropolis."
"Fifteen years ago, I was one of the passengers on the inaugural fight to Amsterdam," said Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford. "The relationship between this trans-Atlantic service and Shelby County is a proven economic engine for job creation and a convenience for citizens and tourists who enjoy this daily flight that opens a gateway to the rest of the world."
Delta's summer flights to Amsterdam operate daily with 216-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring 35 seats in the airline's award-winning business class – BusinessElite – and 181 seats in Economy. Flights are scheduled as follows:
DL156 / KL6016
Memphis at 7:20 p.m.
Amsterdam at 11:30 a.m. (next day)
DL157 / KL6017
Amsterdam at 2:10 p.m.
Memphis at 5:05 p.m.
Upon arrival in Amsterdam, Memphis customers can connect to more than 120 nonstop flights to 72 onward destinations throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
In addition to local Memphis-Amsterdam traffic, Delta estimates that the current top connecting markets for the route are flights from Amsterdam to New Orleans, Miami, Orlando and Las Vegas via Memphis and from Memphis to Paris, London and Rome via Amsterdam.
Since the completion of its merger with Northwest, Delta has added seven new year-round markets from the Memphis hub – New York-JFK; Salt Lake City; Dallas-Love Field; Lubbock, Texas; McAllen, Texas; Amarillo, Texas; and Columbus/West Point/Golden Triangle Miss. The hub offers customers more than 230 daily departures to nearly 90 nonstop destinations.
Delta also recently announced it will offer upgraded two-class jets on eight routes from Memphis operated by its Delta Connection carriers. By fall, all scheduled Delta flights between Memphis and Denver, Newark, McAllen, Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, Baltimore and New York-JFK will be upgraded to larger aircraft featuring First Class and Economy service.
A portion of travel for some itineraries may be on Delta Connection carriers Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Chautauqua, Comair, Compass Airlines, Freedom Airlines, Mesaba, Pinnacle Airlines, Shuttle America and SkyWest; and SkyTeam partners Air France, Alitalia and KLM; and codeshare partners Brit Air, City Jet, KLM Cityhopper and City Jet.
About Memphis International Airport
Memphis International Airport is a world-class facility serving 10 million passengers a year. It has been the No. 1 air cargo airport in the world in terms of cargo volume for 18 consecutive years and is home to a Delta Air Lines passenger hub. Memphis International Airport – along with the city's assets in rail, road and river – comprise "Memphis: America's Aerotropolis," one of the world's best examples of a community with an airport as its economic engine extending outward into the region in strings and clusters of airport-linked businesses. Learn more at www.memphisairport.org.
About Delta KLM and Air France
With more than 230 daily trans-Atlantic flights and a fleet of 135 aircraft, the joint venture between Air France KLM and Delta Air Lines provides customers with the benefits of a vast route network offering more frequencies, competitive fares and harmonized services for travel across the Atlantic. The JV network is structured around six main hubs: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York-JFK and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, with additional service at Cincinnati, Lyon, Memphis and Salt Lake City. Through the partner carriers' respective networks, customers have convenient access beyond gateway cities to nearly 300 destinations in North America and 200 destinations throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America. Air France KLM Group and Delta Air Lines signed a joint venture agreement on May 20, 2009. The JV generates about $10 billion in annual revenues. Under the terms of this agreement, the partners jointly operate their trans-Atlantic routes, thereby sharing revenues and costs.
Delta Air Lines serves more than 160 million customers each year. With its unsurpassed global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 368 destinations in 66 countries on six continents. Delta employs more than 70,000 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. 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 45 Delta Sky Clubs in airports worldwide. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes, check bags and review flight status at delta.com.
SOURCE Delta Air Lines