Current CEO: Richard H. Anderson
Not only is Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines the world’s largest commercial carrier, it’s also the most admired, according to Fortune Magazine. Delta’s fleet of 724 aircraft flies over 160 million passengers every year to 338 destinations in 59 countries. The company operates over 13,000 flights every day, employs 80,000 workers and generates annual revenues in excess of $31 billion.
Delta began in 1924 as the world’s very first crop dusting operation, founded to protect Georgia cotton from boll weevil infestations. The following year, operations moved to Monroe, Louisiana. The fledgling company was named “Delta” in honor of the Mississippi Delta its planes so often flew over. In 1929, Delta began carrying commercial passengers. In 1941, the company’s headquarters moved to Atlanta.
Eastern, TWA, United and American, the so-called Big Four, dominated American passenger aviation from the 1930s through the 1970s, but shrewd acquisitions and the addition of strategic routes helped Delta grow in prominence. After Pan Am declared bankruptcy in 1991, Delta acquired many of its European routes making it the nation’s premier transatlantic carrier.
In 2004, American airlines faced a liquidity crisis as labor costs and the rising price of jet fuel pushed up their operational overhead. Facing bankruptcy, Delta extorted contract concessions from its employees, including a 32.5 percent reduction in the hourly wage the company paid its pilots. These measures did not work, and in September 2005, Delta Air Lines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of its restructuring, Delta laid off 9,000 of its 56,000 workers and implemented sizable pay cuts for all its remaining employees including Delta’s CEO. The restructuring was the beginning of a return to profitability. In 2006, Delta was able to rehire 1,000 flight attendants previously laid off and began accepting new pilot applications for the first time in five years.
Today, Delta Air Lines careers are highly sought after. The pay remains low although on a par with the airline industry as a whole, but other than compensation, the Delta Air culture is one which strives to let workers know they are valued with employee recognition and rewards. Delta benefits include life, medical and dental insurance; flexible spending accounts; a 401 (k) with a fixed two percent company contribution as well as a five percent match; and travel privileges. Most employees like working at Delta Airlines.