As if on cue, a Delta Flights commercial jetliner roared overhead as Delta’s vice chairman of community affairs welcomed about 200 volunteers gathered to create a playground for a Seattle nonprofit’s new headquarters on Luther King Jr. The way in Seattle one recent Saturday.
“I arranged for that,” joked Tad Hutcheson, who flew out from Delta’s Atlanta headquarters to hitch his Seattle team for the daylong project in late August.
The playground for Amara, a Delta flight to Seattle today adoption agency that helps find permanent homes for youngsters in care, was the third such project Delta employees have helped design and integrate the Seattle area and therefore the eighth the airline has built nationwide in partnership with the national nonprofit, KaBoom.
The effort is one among the newest pieces to a broad campaign by the nation’s second-largest carrier to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of Seattle travelers. With $40 billion in annual revenue, Delta is within the midst of a huge expansion that has quite quadrupled flights in and out of Seattle within the past year alone. Delta has made Seattle-Tacoma International Airport its newest hub and is looking itself “Seattle’s Global Airline.”
As Seattle Business reported in June 2014, some wonder if the trouble may be a protect Delta flights to Seattle plan to undercut Alaska Airlines. They worry that Delta is expanding into Alaska’s traditional markets with the goal of weakening then acquiring a locally based airline that has provided huge benefits to the region over the years.
Delta insists it's no interest during a takeover of Alaska. And it argues — somewhat convincingly — that Delta’s new flights, particularly to international destinations, are good for the community and a regional economy increasingly tied to global markets. Consider:
- Three recent full-page newspaper ads proclaiming, “Delta Means Business,” “Investing in Seattle for Seattle” and “Keeping It Local.”
- Buses, light-rail trains, and Washington state ferries plastered with Delta’s title of Seattle’s Global Airline. (The undersides of Delta’s airplanes are now emblazoned with new “belly logos” for anyone wondering which airline is flying directly overhead.)
- Corporate sponsorship arrangements with a growing list of Seattle arts and entertainment institutions, including the Seattle International festival, the 5th Avenue Theatre, the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Sounders FC, and therefore the Seattle Seahawks. (While Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is Alaska Airlines’ “chief football officer” and has his own parking spot at corporate headquarters in SeaTac, he travels to and from road games on Delta, the team’s official carrier.)