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  • 90 years to Atlanta!

    Jun 12, 2020

    Today marks 90 years of Delta service to Atlanta, the airline's corporate home and largest operational hub. It all started with trial service on June 12, 1930. Five-passenger Travel Air planes flew one daily nonstop to and from Birmingham, Alabama. Daily service started June 18th.

     delta-ATL-poster-early1950s

    Delta travel poster, early 1950s. Shows aerial view of downtown Atlanta, including the state capitol in the foreground (with gold dome).

    Early ATL Service

    If you took the Delta morning flight out of Atlanta in mid-June 1930, you could reach Birmingham in an hour and a half, and Ft. Worth, Texas, by mid afternoon. The fare to Birmingham cost $9.80, half as much as railroad fare at the time. For more details, see this Atlanta Journal article describing the initial service.

    After a week of trial runs, daily Atlanta service began on June 18, 1930. Delta was celebrating its first year of passenger service and a "remarkable record of safety and efficiency, having flown 251,000 miles without an accident and with a 90 percent average of 'on time' arrivals and departures," noted the Atlanta Constitution newspaper.

    delta-timetable-cover-june-17-1930

    Cover of Delta's June 17, 1930 timetable announcing the new daily service to Atlanta. You can browse this entire timetable in our Public Digital Archives.

     1930s ATL check-in

    Checking in for a Delta flight at Atlanta, mid-late 1930s.

    Delta headquarters moved to Atlanta in 1941, and Delta is the oldest continuous tenant at the Atlanta airport (since 1934).

    ATL postcard 1940

    Linen postcard shows a Delta Douglas DC-2 at Atlanta, 1940. On reverse, the airport is described as the "Hub of Southeastern Aviation."

    First at ATL

    Delta's grown with this "transportation hub" city, and over the years celebrated many firsts in Atlanta air service, including:

    • Early pioneer of the hub-and-spoke air traffic system extending from Atlanta.
    • First jet service in Atlanta (DC-8 jet from New York on September 18, 1959).
    • First service to Europe from Atlanta in 1964, in interchange operations with Pan Am. Pan Am crews flew the international segments.
    • First nonstop service between Atlanta and California (1961).
    • First nonstop trans-Atlantic service from Atlanta (to London-Gatwick in April 1978).
    • First airline in the world to board one million passengers in one city in one month (in Atlanta in August 1979).
    • First airline to board 2 million passengers in one city in one month (in Atlanta in 1997).
    • First commercial flight to land on the fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, hailed as “The Most Important Runway in America” when it opened (2006).

    Congratulations on 90 years, Delta ATL!

    Marie Force

    Archives Director

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