More than 2,000 employees gathered in Delta’s new state-of-the-art engine shop in Atlanta, along with hundreds more in Minneapolis’ Hangar 5 and countless live streaming across the globe to mark a milestone 10 years in the making: the final approval of the merger between Delta and Northwest on Oct. 29, 2008.
Standing tall behind the shop’s seven-story glass wall was the newest member of the Delta family — the first Airbus A220-100 to be welcomed into Delta’s fleet — featuring a freshly unveiled modern interior to match its thoughtful innovation.
“Ten years ago today we closed on the most audacious undertaking in our history,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said. “Our goal was to perform the merger in a way that had never been done. We didn’t have all the answers, but we knew we were going to do it because of the strength of our culture and our people. Look at what you’ve created – arguably the most successful airline in the globe.”
Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, remarked on the progress made since that historic day, including an 80 percent increase in total compensation and over $6 billion in profit sharing since the merger.
“We’ve led the industry,” said West. “We’ve moved from bottom to top in every Department of Transportation metric and invested billions back into our fleet and the airports. We’ve been recognized as one of the most relevant brands in the world. Our merger has ultimately been successful thanks to the Delta Difference and Delta people.”
Rick Deurloo, Senior Vice President — Sales, Marketing and Customer Support at Pratt & Whitney, also joined the stage and spoke to the shared values of safety, innovation and efficiency between Delta, Airbus and Pratt. The A220 is powered by Pratt & Whitney's latest geared turbofan PW1500G engine designed to deliver an expected 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over similar-sized aircraft when it enters service Jan. 31, 2019.
Cameras cut to Delta’s second home in Minneapolis with Bill Lentsch, E.V.P. — Flying & Air Operations, who began his career at Northwest and said the guiding principle of the merger was working with employees in partnership.
“As I look back on when I joined the Delta family, I think about the heart of this company towards its employees and around its customers. We have an incredible heart to do what it takes with passion to ultimately deliver the best for our people, customers and communities,” he said.
After the ceremonial A220 ribbon-cutting, hundreds of employees lined up for exclusive tours. Robert Nesbitt, ATL-based Cargo Agent, enjoyed his up-close look, describing the seats as comfortable and the window in the lavatory as “the coolest touch.”
“I’m going to be on the lookout,” he said.
John Good, CVG-based Customer Service Agent who was part of Delta’s seniority integration team, said the past decade has flown by. “During the merger, we found Northwest was just like us — they had the same concerns, the same trepidation. We were a great match up of people. Now look where we are.”
CEO Bastian summarized the occasion best: “We are just getting started.”