With the coming merger of Northwest and Delta Airlines, it’s worth pausing for a moment and honoring the airlines that have given their lives to the Delta brand.
It started with Delta Air Corporation, which was a cropdusting service in Louisiana in the ’20s.
But the roots — and the routes — go to Boston.
Boston & Maine was part of the old B&M Railway Company, and it operated under contract to National Airways, founded by — among others — Amelia Earhart. National eventually became Northeast Airlines. The airline was famous for its yellow airplanes, called yellowbirds.
The airline merged with Delta in 1972, which is how Delta became such a big “player” in the northeast.
In the ’50s, Delta picked up Chicago & Southern Airlines, which had previously been known as Pacific Seaboard Air Lines.
In 1986, Delta picked up Western Airlines, another airline that started in the ’30s as a mail carrier.
Delta acquired the transatlantic routes of bankrupt PanAm, and then the lucrative Boston-New York shuttle from the same airline.
Northwest, similarly, started as a mail carrier in 1926.
Just a few years later — 1971 — Howard Hughes bought the airline and renamed it Hughes Airwest.
With airline deregulation, Southern Airways and North Central Airlines merged into Republic Airlines in 1979 . A second “Herman the Duck” joined the logo and flew in the other direction.
Republic acquired Hughes Airwest in 1980. In 1986, Northwest acquired Republic.
And the rest is…