Abstract: Sowing the Seeds of Globalization: Delta Air Lines, 1970-1995

Drew Whitelegg


This paper analyzes the development of Delta Air Lines, 1970 to 1995, from a regional to a global carrier. It argues that many of the features associated with modern-day globalization were present at Delta from the 1970s and, more specifically, the 1980s. The airline expanded simultaneously at the global and local levels, largely through franchise and code-share agreements. At the same time, the airline became driven by the need to compete through lower cost structures. Delta's global status should be viewed as an evolutionary development over a thirty-year period, not as a product of changes in the 1990s.