Tom Harrold

Delta Air Lines Inc. on June 17 celebrated 35 years of trans-Atlantic service to Germany that started with its inaugural flight in 1979 from Atlanta to Frankfurt.

The original flight shuttled up to 218 passengers between Atlanta and Frankfurt four times a week. Since then, the airline has steadily built out its German route map. 

Now in its 35th year of service to the country, the Frankfurt flight’s capacity has grown to 245 passengers, and the airline offers daily access from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich and Düsseldorf. Delta also offers direct flights to Frankfurt daily from New York-JFK and Detroit.

Tom Harrold, an Atlanta attorney for Miller & Martin LLP who has built a significant base of German clients, said the Delta flights have made it much easier to woo investors from Europe‘s largest economy. 

“There is no question that the Delta air service has helped immensely to increase the number of German companies doing business in Georgia,” Mr. Harrold told Global Atlanta via email. 

He remembered his first Delta flight to Frankfurt in 1982, when the prospect of nonstop travel to Europe from Atlanta was still new. 

“We were all excited about Delta going international, and I just hoped our good old Southern boys who were the pilots could find the Frankfurt Airport and speak German to the air traffic controllers,” Mr. Harrold said. “Only later did I find out that English is the universal language of air traffic control, but I was still concerned about the Germans understanding our Southern drawls.”

Though that time he had to take a train from Frankfurt to Munich, he later traveled on Delta’s inaugural flights to that city as well as Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. Each flight included a delegation from either the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S. Inc. or the Metro Atlanta Chamber, he said. 

Delta remains committed to the work that began in Frankfurt.

“This flight marked a milestone in Delta’s history,” Thomas Brandt, Delta’s sales manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said in a news release. “In the year that we celebrate Delta’s 85th anniversary of passenger flights, Germany remains one of the most important destinations in our trans-Atlantic route network.”

Last year, Delta ferried more than 800,000 passengers between the U.S. and Germany.

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