Delta Air Lines Inc. on June 3 launched nonstop service six days per week from Atlanta to Stockholm, Sweden.
The new flight is expected to increase business and tourism between the Scandinavian country and the Southeast, said Jill Olander, Sweden’s honorary consul for Georgia.
Ms. Olander told GlobalAtlanta that the nonstop route has been a long time in coming. Almost eight years ago, she helped set up a meeting of top airport officials, Swedish diplomats and Copenhagen, Denmark-based Scandinavian Airlines System to have them explore the possibility of starting a flight.
That meeting was scheduled for Sept. 13, 2001, but was cancelled after the 9/11 terrorist attacks sent the airline industry into a temporary tailspin.
At Delta’s inauguration Tuesday, Ms. Olander participated in a ribbon-cutting and told passengers how fortunate Georgia is to finally have such a convenient link to her homeland and its historic charms.
Delta announced the new service to Sweden last September, just weeks after GlobalAtlanta had traveled there to report on an increased flow of entrepreneurial activity between Sweden and Savannah.
Wade Caldwell, GlobalAtlanta’s production manager, accompanied a delegation to the Entrepreneurial Days Conference in Vaxjo, Sweden.
The conference is held twice a year, alternating between cities in Sweden and the U.S. The national Swedish-American chamber has selected Savannah as the location for Spring 2009.
The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia is working to set the agenda of the conference.
The new flight will give the hundreds of Swedish businesspeople expected at the conference easier access to Georgia and to the Southeast as a whole, said Mee Linden, the chamber’s executive director.
“We are very excited and we think this is going to stimulate an increase in trade and commerce between Sweden and this region,” she said.
As per Delta’s announcement in September, 55 Swedish companies had set up shop in Georgia, and nearly 900 U.S. companies had operations in Sweden. Ms. Olander estimates that 1,500-1,700 Swedes live in Georgia, although the population and the number of Swedish businesses here have steadily grown.
The chamber had planned a variety of activities here and in Sweden to celebrate the launch, but in view of rising fuel prices, Delta is cutting back on some costly festivities that have characterized many of its international launches in the past.
Tom Herrold, an attorney at Miller & Martin LLP’s Atlanta office, has helped plan inaugural celebrations for flights to Shannon, Ireland, and Dusseldorf and Stuttgart, Germany. He was working with the Swedish chamber to do the same.
When Delta decided to cut back, he and the chamber pulled the plug on plans at the departure gate and arrangements he had made with a partner law firm in Sweden.
Instead, he’ll go with a Georgia group that will travel there Sept. 15-16.
“We said, ‘Let’s reschedule and take a good delegation of 15-20 people and do an invest in Georgia thing as part of Entrepreneurial Days,'” he said.
The Stockholm flight is one of nine new routes the Atlanta-based carrier has started during a 10-day span, but it’s one of only two taking off from Delta’s hometown hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Six of Delta’s new routes will leave from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport headed to destinations from Africa to South America to the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The airline’s Salt Lake City hub began its first trans-Atlantic flight with nonstop service to Paris June 2.