Delta, KLM Celebrate 15 years of Non-stop Trans-Atlantic Service to Memphis
Delta Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines joined Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and key City, County and State officials on June 24 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first nonstop flight between Memphis International and Amsterdam Schiphol airports.
The event was a mixture of reminiscing about the first flight, named “Elvis One,” and recognition of the flight’s endurance through 15 years of global economic, environmental and geo-political challenges.
Various expressions of what the flight has meant to business development, tourism, travel convenience and efficiency were expressed by all the program speakers.
Since the inaugural flight on June 27, 1995, more than 2 million customers have flown on the flight, generating more than $2 billion in economic impact for the Mid-South region and approximately 26,000 foreign visitors annually. The multiplied impact of jobs, exports, imports and foreign investments enabled by the flight make it one of the most celebrated economic development accomplishments in Memphis’ history.
Delta took over the service following its merger with Northwest in 2009.
“No trans-Atlantic route in America better demonstrates the value of long-term relationships between airlines and the communities they serve than Memphis to Amsterdam,” said Charlie Pappas, Delta’s managing director-Alliances. “Thanks to the support of community leaders, citizens and businesses, Memphis remains one of the only U.S. metropolitan areas with fewer than 1.5 million residents to enjoy year-round, unsubsidized non-stop service to Europe. We appreciate Memphis’ continued loyalty to Delta, and we look forward to continuing to serve as the flagship airline for this community.”
“What started as a dream for a handful of Memphians has become a sustained economic boon for our region,” said Arnold Perl, chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. “Over the last 15 years, we have worked closely with Delta and KLM to create a successful flight between the Memphis hub and Amsterdam’s European hub. Despite major challenges to air travel, including 9/11, SARS, global conflicts and the economic recession, these airlines stayed true to their commitments to Memphis and maintained our passenger link to Europe season after season, year after year.”