MIAMI — Delta Air Lines commemorated its 70th anniversary at Miami International Airport with a celebration at the airport for passengers and employees. The airline, which began service at Miami on December 1, 1945 is the longest-serving airline at the airport.
The inaugural flight seven decades ago was a Miami – Chicago service operated by a Douglas DC-3 christened ‘City of Miami,’ which carried 21 passengers. The route was much sought after by the airline. Prior to the Civil Aviation Board (CAB) award, Delta operated only an East-West service from Texas to Georgia. The Douglas DC-4s were specifically purchased for this route, marking the change of Delta into a major carrier. The CAB award put Delta in competition with Eastern, a rivalry that lasted until Eastern’s 1991 demise.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, Delta operated extensive services to Miami including DC-10’s, L-1011’s and 747’s to non hub cities like Chicago and Detroit. A few years back, Delta even operated a short-lived service to London Heathrow connecting with an intra-Florida route feed. Today, Delta serves nearly 2.5 million passengers annually at Miami and is the second largest U.S. carrier in terms of traffic at MIA behind the dominant American Airlines. Though Delta primarily connects Miami with its hub airports, the airline has recently shifted the Ft. Lauderdale-Los Angeles flight to Miami.
“We are proud to celebrate the longevity and significant contributions that Delta has made in our community,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “As our longest serving airline, we are honored to have so many past and present employees here to celebrate this milestone.”
An arriving Delta flight was greeted by a water cannon salute and, the airport presented Delta with a commemorative vintage photo collage and a cake decorated with a photo of Miss Orange Bowl 1946, Libby Walker. The photo shows her shattering a bottle of orange juice on the nose of the ‘City of Miami’ christening the Douglas DC-3 that flew Delta’s inaugural Miami service.
“Miami is special all the way around,” said Daryl Lynem, Airport Customer Service Station Manager, MIA. “We have a coalition of employees from all around the world and a robust schedule. Although it’s technically a domestic airport, we have an international flavor, because of all of the connecting passengers flying into Miami.”