By Maria Saporta
More than a year ago, Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson believed that having MLT Vacations under its own roof rather than in Minnesota made great business sense.
So on Wednesday afternoon, Anderson and Gov. Nathan Deal cut the ribbon on MLT Vacations new headquarters on the campus of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines. The move has meant 100 new jobs in Atlanta so far with the promise of more to come, according to John Caldwell, president of MLT Vacations, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines.
“I was very involved,” Anderson said. “We took the decision that they were going to move here. Everyone knew that for our strategic direction it needed to be close to the marketing department of Delta. They were in Minnesota for 40 years. We also have a real commitment to Atlanta and Georgia.”
MLT Vacations, which manages Delta Vacations and other vacation package brands for other airlines, had been owned by Northwest Airlines and became part of Delta after the two airlines merged.
“We are the only major airline in the world, other than Virgin Atlantic, that owns a vacation package subsidiary,” Anderson said. Coincidentally, Delta owns 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic. Anderson said there may be the possibility to “bring synergy for Virgin and MLT to cooperate.”
Gov. Deal said MLT Vacations was just one more example of the importance of Delta’s presence in the market. “Delta employs more people in metro Atlanta than any other company,” said Deal, while welcoming MLT to Georgia. “I applaud you for that.”
Caldwell had been with Northwest for 25 years until the Delta merger when he moved to Atlanta to be part of its sales operations. About a year ago, Anderson and other Delta executives asked him to lead MLT Vacations. Although the 100 headquarter employees were offered the opportunity to move to Atlanta, “very few elected to come from Minnesota,” Caldwell said. “We ended up hiring almost all of our employees locally.”
Because Delta is growing in many markets, such as New York and Los Angeles, and because it is strengthening many of its airline partnerships — such as AeroMexico and Air France, Caldwell said there’s significant opportunity to grow the company.
“We have aggressive growth plans this year,” Caldwell said, adding that one advantage in the move that it no longer has to pay rent because it is now located on the ground floor of the Delta Reservations building.
MLT also is investing in technology that will allow the company to arrange two-way vacation planning. Currently it puts together vacation plans for people in the United States traveling to other places. But now it’s planning to offer vacations to international visitors wanting to travel in the United States.
Caldwell, who lives in Peachtree City with his family, said that as he gets MLT settled, he looks forward to becoming more engaged in civic activities.