Aug. 06--Delta Air Lines, the largest volume carrier serving Charleston International Airport, will mark its 80th anniversary in the Lowcountry Friday.
The Atlanta-based carrier started serving Charleston with mail service on July 7, 1934, five years after the airport opened. A month later, on Aug. 5, 1934, airline passenger service began, carrying seven ticket holders on a 100 mph Stinson T airplane.
It took 23 hours and 42 minutes with 10 stops to fly mail to Dallas.
The largest aircraft today serving Charleston, an MD88, carries 149 passengers and travels up to 498 mph.
When the current 10-gate terminal opened in 1985, Delta offered seven daily non-stop flights and transported 400 passengers a day to Atlanta from the North Charleston airport.
Today, the airline offers 35 flights in and out of Charleston to Detroit, Atlanta and New York City's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports. It takes 45 to 90 minutes to get to those destinations.
Delta Air Lines and Delta Global Services, an aviation ground-handling service, employ about 100 people at Charleston International.
A reception including Delta representatives and members of Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns the airport, will be held at 11 a.m. Friday near Delta's ticket counter, which is being moved across the aisle during the $189 million renovation and expansion of the airport.
Charleston International is adding five new gates, a third baggage carousel, consolidated security checkpoints and numerous other changes as passenger demand rises.
The airport saw 2.9 million passengers in 2013, a tremendous leap from the first 70 passengers who flew in all of 1931 on Eastern Air Transport, later Eastern Airlines, which is now defunct. The number of airport passengers at Charleston is expected to climb to nearly 4 million over the next decade or so.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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