Throwback Thursday // Celebrating the Delta-Northwest Airlines Merger
By: Marie F., Delta Archivist, Atlanta
Can’t believe this month marks 5 years since Northwest Airlines merged with us in 2008. Time flies! We started operating as a single carrier in January 2010, and today, our industry-leading global network reaches 330 destinations on six continents.
Our transpacific routes inherited from Northwest are especially rich in history.
Before Northwest in 1947, no airline used the chilly, northern “Great Circle” shortcut to Asia. Drawing on wartime experience in the Arctic, Northwest flew Douglas DC-4s from Edmonton, Canada, and Anchorage, Alaska, refueled at a military airfield on Shemya at the tip of the Aleutian Islands, and crossed the Pacific by circling north of the earth’s equator to Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Manila.
The Great Circle Route brought New York about 2,000 miles closer to Japan than the warm weather, mid-Pacific route pioneered by Pan Am. Northwest could fly from hometown Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, to Tokyo in thirty-three hours in 1947. Today, you can fly non-stop MSP-NRT in 12 hours and 45 minutes.
Did you know? Northwest Airlines briefly adopted the name “Northwest Oriental” for about six months in 1946-1947, before doing business as “Northwest Orient” for two decades.