At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Qatar Airways held a press conferenceÂ on TuesdayÂ to highlight the carrier’sÂ entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.
I had not flown on two domestic airlines back-to-back with so much the same, and I found there to be a pretty stark differences.
To San Juan, I took two Delta Boeing 737-900ERs with the newest interior (one was only a few weeks old). I flew from Seattle to Atlanta (shocking), then on to San Juan. On the wayÂ home, I took two American 737-800s. One had the Boeing Sky Interior cabin, but still shared entertainment screens. The second was an older 737-800, with no sky interior and also shared screens (but more on that later). I flew out of San Juan, through Miami, and then on to Seattle.
The cost of the tickets were exactly the same: $236 each way. I also earned Alaska Airlines miles for both flights, so I didnâ€™t care about miles on either, nor did I have any status [update: I did not realize that Delta only gave me 50% Alaska miles vs American’s 100%. Still knowing this, it doesn’t change any of my choices or opinions since I am not much of a miles guy]. Â I was also in window seats and had similar seat-mate setups.
I went into these flights with no expectation of doing a story, but the fact that onÂ similar flights, there wasÂ an obvious winner, I became motivated. And yes, you will have to wait until the end to see which airlineÂ won â€” no cheating!
This week, Delta Airline Lines celebrated their 70th year of being Atlanta’s hometown airline. This video helps to show how Delta changed from a small presence in Atlanta, when it moved from Monroe, LA in 1941 to now being the world’s largest airline. Over the years, Delta has grown to about 25,000 employees based just in Atlanta and adds over $25billion into the local economy.
“Delta Air Lines and Atlanta have a unique partnership that has been inextricably linked to the success and prosperity of our city and our airport for nearly three quarters of a century,â€ said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. â€œThe strong relationships among companies such as Delta, state and local elected officials and civic organizations are what make Atlanta not only a global, dynamic city, but a great place to live and do business. Congratulations to Delta Air Lines, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and all employees on the company’s 70th anniversary as Atlantaâ€™s hometown airline.”
To help celebrate Delta created a special Coca-Cola livery on the “Spirit of Atlanta” which is a Boeing 777-200LR.
A Boeing 757 with its nose off in for work at Delta Tech Ops. Click for larger.
You hear a lot of complaints from folks about companies outsourcing. In fact, its known within the airline community that many airlines not do their own maintenance. Delta Air Lines works just the opposite. Not only do they not outsource their maintenance, but they also in-source work from other companies from around the globe.
Deltaâ€™s Technical Operations (TechOps) is located on the west east side of the airport and is about 1.5 miles long. My tour guide, Anthony Black, thankfully opted for a golf cart, since we had a lot of ground to cover.
Hartsfieldâ€“Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is like its own city, but so is Delta TechOps. The TechOPs is so large, it has its own credit union, mini-hospital and interior roads complete with stop signs.
Delta Tech Ops has many engines worth millions of dollars each. Click for larger.
Delta flies many different aircraft types with a variety of engines. Down a long hallway are signs with different engine-types hanging from the ceilings (photo). Engines are located all all over the facility in different states of being repaired or overhauled.
Engines are very complex pieces of machinery composed of many different odd-shaped parts. Technicians need to be very careful of labeling each part to make sure they can put the engine-puzzle back together when completedÂ (photo). When the composite fan blades are removed, they are storedÂ separatelyÂ and not allowed to touch (photo). Just be careful… each blade is worth about $20,000.00.
When the engine is done, it is moved into one of five test cells in the facility (photo). The test cell is a large wind tunnel and each engine will be run for about 8-12 hours to simulate a flight and to make sure it is ready to go back on an aircraft. Â After it gets the thumbs up, it is either placed on an aircraft waiting at the facility or packaged up and possibly shipped anywhere in the world for a customer (flight-lineÂ photo).
Delta's paint hangars have lifts come down from the ceiling (shouldn't they be called "lowers" then?). Click for larger.
The facility doesn’t just do engine work. They also work on anything from replacing small nuts and bolts, adding winglets and completing an overhaul of an aircraft. About 150 different companies willÂ in-sourceÂ maintenanceÂ at the TechOps center, meaning they keep busy.
Our next stop was taking a look at the paint hangars. They have been very busy recently with the merger with Northwest Airlines, getting all the planes painted over to Delta’s livery. I wasn’t able to see any Delta aircraft being painted, but I was able to check out a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 that was in for a new coat of paintÂ (photo). The hangars have lifts that come down from the ceiling to allow workers to efficiently paint aircraft. This saves time, since the painters are easily able to work around the aircraft with theirÂ mechanicalÂ lifts.
The Delta TechOps is one impressive place. Not only with the size of the facility, but the scale of their operations. Next time you are flying to ATL, be sure to take a look out the window and see if you can check out some of the action happening at the TechOps.