Following $1.6B profit sharing payout, Delta unveils ‘thank you’ Airbus A321 featuring all 90,000 employee names

  • Delta unveils plane dedicated to world’s best employees; more than 90,000 employee names form the words “thank you” on the aircraft livery.
  • Record payment comes on same day airline announces $1 billion sustainability investment.

Delta Air Lines today will pay out more than $1 billion in profit sharing, celebrating the outstanding accomplishments made possible by its employees around the world. The $1.6 billion profit sharing pool – a record for a U.S.-based company – translates to a 16.7 percent payout for eligible employees.

“Delta would be nothing without our 90,000 people worldwide,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “They deserve all the credit for our success, and we are proud to recognize their extraordinary work with a $1.6 billion payout – marking the sixth year in a row that Delta’s profit sharing has exceeded $1 billion.”

The airline has paid more than $6.5 billion in profits directly to its employees over the past five years – a milestone no other company has ever achieved.

“We’re often asked what sets Delta apart, and the answer is simple: our people,” said Joanne Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. “That’s why profit sharing is one of the most important days of the year. It’s all about Delta people sharing in the success they make possible through hard work and a focus on our customers.”

Thank you to the world’s best employees and customers

At a profit sharing celebration this morning in the airline’s hometown of Atlanta, Delta leaders unveiled another symbol of the company’s appreciation: a custom aircraft livery featuring all 90,000 employee names, alongside a message that the aircraft is “dedicated to the world’s best employees and customers.”

The custom “thank you” message featured on this Airbus A321 aircraft was designed, produced and installed in-house by Delta people. The process – which involved 48 custom decal panels – took more than a week to complete at the Delta TechOps print shop and hangar in Atlanta.

For Joel Freeland, a TechOps painter who worked on the project, the aircraft is particularly meaningful.

“It’s so wonderful to get to do a project like this,” said Freeland. “The idea was conceived within Delta, and all the employees working together have made it a reality.”

Taking care of Delta people, customers and the world around us

Delta remains committed to its promise to take care of its employees, customers and the world which we all share. As part of this, Delta also announced today a $1 billion investment to advance sustainability in air travel and become the first carbon neutral airline globally.

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Delta’s $1.6 billion in profit sharing paid to employees this week – a record for a U.S.-based company – will have an even bigger impact on local communities than the already sizeable number suggests.

“Profit sharing by corporations is one of the best ways to help a local economy,” said Emory University economist Jeff Rosensweig. “Although some of these increments to income will be saved or spent outside of the local economy, much of it will be plowed into increased purchases from local businesses.”

That spending has an outsized impact because of what economists call “the multiplier effect.”

Rosensweig, professor at Goizueta Business School of Emory University and Director of the John Robson Program for Business, Public Policy, and Government, explained the concept:

“In the ‘multiplier effect,’ the increased income earned by people selling goods and services purchased by Delta employees with their profit sharing payouts is, in turn, spent partly on local products. Then, the people who sell those products will start a third round of spending, and so on.”

Take metro Atlanta, where Delta employs its largest employee population. Delta will pay those employees a total of $571 million this week, and the overall economic impact will be greater than $1.2 billion because the multiplier effect ranges from a factor of 2.2 and 2.5, Rosensweig said.

Profit sharing is paid to eligible employees worldwide, and this year’s payout translates to 16.7 percent of annual pay. The overall payout of $1.6 billion reflects a 26% increase over last year’s $1.3 billion.

As an added benefit of pumping more money into the economy, businesses are more able to hire and retain employees. The payout in Atlanta supports the creation of about 5,000 full- and part-time jobs outside of Delta, Rosensweig said.

Delta’s diverse workforce includes a mix of office and frontline employees, boosting the economic power of workers across all demographics.

“Given that many Delta employees live and work in diverse communities like Atlanta, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles, a significant amount of their spending will boost minority and women-owned businesses,” Rosensweig noted.

Market Delta’s payout Projected economic impact
Atlanta $571 million $1.2 billion
New York City $163 million $358 million
Detroit $137 million $301 million
Minnesota (primarily Minneapolis/St. Paul) $130 million $286 million
Los Angeles $80 million $176 million