ATLANTA – Feb 21, 2006 – “The Spirit of Delta” — Delta Air Lines’ employee-purchased aircraft — this week begins its farewell tour and final flights in key Delta markets before returning home for permanent display at the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum in Atlanta. The Boeing 767 aircraft, a symbol of pride for Delta people, today touches down at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, respectively, to kick off the retirement festivities.
In addition to these cities, during the next two weeks Delta employees and customers will bid farewell to The Spirit of Delta in Cincinnati (Feb. 21); New York (JFK, Feb. 23); Boston (Feb. 24), Salt Lake City (Feb. 27); Los Angeles (Feb. 28); Seattle (March 1); Dallas/Fort Worth (March 2) and Atlanta (March 3). Each city’s retirement ceremony will consist of a gate event and demonstration flight, allowing employees, community leaders, media and honored guests to fly aboard The Spirit of Delta one last time. Local Delta-supported charities, such as the American Red Cross and the Ronald McDonald House, will participate in each city’s celebration.
“The Spirit of Delta is more than just an aircraft. More than 20 years ago, Delta people defined our company’s culture – one that would include teamwork and dedication to seeing the company through difficult times in pursuit of making our airline the best in the world,” said Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein. “Though our industry has changed considerably since 1982, these same characteristics remain as Delta people work to build a strong, profitable, competitive company based on a vision of shared future success. While The Spirit of Delta will not fly again after this tour, I believe the spirit of Delta people can and will.”
The Spirit of Delta has been refurbished to its original livery and following the farewell tour will feature a video viewing area in the First Class cabin, and an exhibit area and presentation room in the Economy cabin. The retirement will culminate with a final ceremony in April when the aircraft is carefully towed from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport along public roadways to Historic Hangar II at the Delta Heritage Museum at Delta’s World Headquarters in Atlanta. The aircraft will retire adjacent to Ship 41, the first Douglas DC-3 to carry Delta passengers in 1940, and a 1931 Travel Air, symbolizing Delta’s first passenger aircraft.
The farewell tour, all aircraft modifications and the plane’s permanent exhibit were made possible through financial support from Boeing and Delta Heritage Museum donors.
“The Spirit of Delta is receiving a first-class retirement thanks to the generous support of our friends at Boeing and Delta’s Air Transport Heritage Museum. Their contributions are giving employees the chance to say goodbye to a very special aircraft and also making sure the plane remains accessible to those to whom it belongs: the people of Delta Air Lines, ” said Grinstein.
On Dec. 15, 1982, Delta employees and friends gathered at the airline’s Technical Operations Center in Atlanta to present the company with its first Boeing 767 aircraft, Ship 102, christened “The Spirit of Delta.” At that time, the airline industry was troubled by a weak economy and high fuel prices. After 35 consecutive profitable years, Delta posted a net loss. As a way of expressing their appreciation for the company during a difficult time, Delta employees spearheaded Project 767 to raise $30 million to purchase the aircraft. The grassroots effort was led by three flight attendants and supported through combined donations from employees, retirees and friends.
The Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum was started in 1990 when a group of Delta retirees launched an effort to locate one of Delta’s first 1940s Douglas DC-3 aircraft. This, combined with consolidation of Delta’s archival collections, created a groundswell of support that expanded into a museum. The Museum was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in May 1995 and today serves to collect, preserve and present the history of Delta Air Lines. The Museum is housed in two of Delta’s original aircraft hangars dating from the 1940s, which were used as maintenance facilities until 1960.
Delta Air Lines (Other OTC: DALRQ) is one of the world’s fastest growing international carriers with more than 50 new international routes added or announced in the last year. Delta offers daily flights to 503 destinations in 94 countries on Delta, Song, Delta Shuttle, the Delta Connection carriers and its worldwide partners. In summer 2006, Delta plans to offer customers more destinations and departures between the U.S., Europe, India and Israel than any global airline*, including service on 11 new transatlantic routes from its Atlanta and New York-JFK hubs. Delta also is a major carrier to Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean, with more than 35 routes announced, added or applied to serve since Jan. 1, 2005. Delta’s marketing alliances also allow customers to earn and redeem SkyMiles on more than 14,000 flights offered by SkyTeam and other partners. Delta is a founding member of SkyTeam, a global airline alliance that provides customers with extensive worldwide destinations, flights and services. Customers can check in for flights, print boarding passes and check flight status at delta.com.
*Based on July 2006 OAG