Delta Air Lines Bankruptcy Emergence, Part 15: Salt Lake City: The Emergence Event

Note: Nine years ago yesterday, Delta Air Lines formally emerged from bankruptcy protection; and this article is the fifteenth of a series of articles which I first wrote nine years ago today.

e deplaned from the aircraft on the tarmac outside of the hangar and walked down a white portable stairwell, similar to the President of the United States. The crowd was cheering. I felt a little uncomfortable simply because I am typically a shy person and felt I did not deserve to receive part of the attention. I even tried to be one of the last to deplane and be inconspicuous about it, but several people on-board the aircraft convinced me to simply deplane with everybody else.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

The azure blue sky with the wispy cirrus clouds, accompanied by the Wasatch Mountain range, creates an ideal backdrop for this dramatic photograph of the underside of ship 638. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

I walked down the stairs and through the crowd, taking pictures. As usual, Jerry was once again the star — and deservedly so. Several Delta Air Lines executives were crowded by their adoring “fans”, but with a difference: the interaction resembled more towards “Hey, Lee — it is great to see you again!” or “Joanne! How are you doing?”. In other words, perhaps I should not have used the word “fans”, as the interaction, complete with handshakes and hugs, resembled more of family members and friends greeting each other instead of the typical celebrity-to-fan interaction.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

This photograph, taken at a hangar at the airport in Salt Lake City, compares the Delta logotype with the “frowning widget” with the latest logotype. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Carol Zupancic, Director of Airport Customer Service – West for Delta Air Lines, officiates the featured presenters at the bankruptcy emergence event at the airport in Salt Lake City. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

How many companies experience this type of closeness amongst its employees who work in different parts of the country? Even if it only seemed that way and was a mere illusion rather than it being reality, it was still remarkable to watch.

Once inside, Carol Zupancic, Director of Airport Customer Service — West, welcomed everybody and introduced Jerry to the podium.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

As it has become common practice during the bankruptcy emergence tour, Jerry Grinstein mesmerizes the crowd inside of a hangar at the airport in Salt Lake City. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Judy Ondrey, official photographer for the bankruptcy emergence events for Delta Air Lines, prepares to take the picture of Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson as he addresses the crowd in the hangar at the airport. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

For Jerry Grinstein, shaking hands with the mayor of Salt Lake City is the perfect Rocky finish to a rocky 19 months for Delta Air Lines. Mayor Rocky Anderson, left, prepares to address the crowd just as Jerry Grinstein concluded his short speech. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Rocky Anderson, who is the mayor of Salt Lake City. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

John L. Valentine, who is the President of the Utah State Senate. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Delta Air Lines bankruptcy emergence Salt Lake City

Lee Macenczak is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Service of Delta Air Lines. Photograph ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

Jerry gave his speech to the audience, who listened intently to what he had to say about the emergence of Delta Air Lines from bankruptcy and the future of Delta Air Lines.

Following Jerry was Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who commented about the importance of Delta Air Lines to Salt Lake City and the frequency of flights from its hub.

Afterwards, Utah Senate President John L. Valentine spoke for a few minutes to the crowd.

Finally, Lee Macenczak, Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Service, addressed the crowd.

After the speeches concluded, the speakers and other Delta Air Lines executives mingled with the crowd. Sure, they could have gone off to a remote isolated location to have lunch, but they — along with the politicians — mingled amongst the crowd instead.

A plethora of boxed lunches abounded with choices such as chicken, turkey and roast beef sandwiches, along with assorted snacks and drinks. I actually had a chance to eat one, and it was quite good. I observed Delta Air Lines employees trading bags of corn chips for bags of cheese snacks, like best friends in a cafeteria in grade school. Just like in Atlanta, they were all in a great mood. I spoke to several of them, and they said how tough it was to endure the bankruptcy, along with the tough sacrifices they had to make, but it was well worth it. I found this to be a recurring theme amongst Delta Air Lines employees in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

I also noticed how many Delta Air Lines employees had been working long-term for the airline. One person who attended just retired after greater than 40 years of service. There were several other retirees who attended the event and were greeted warmly, as though they were family.

After the event concluded and the crowd eventually dispersed, I went outside to take some photographs of the aircraft. I stared at the D E L T A logotype on the aircraft and thought to myself that there must be a manual dictating the proper usage of the logo device, as most corporations usually have. Being a professional in the graphic arts industry, I wondered if there was an allowance in the manual for the “widget” to be a two-tone blue while the D E L T A logotype was in red, just for a change of pace when the environment and situation calls for it. I think I will create a rendition of that and post it, if that version of the D E L T A logotype does not already exist.

I also took some interesting photographs of the aircraft, some of which can be found in the May 1 photo album, accessible from this “blog”.

“Flight attendant” Joan W. Vincenz, actually the Managing Director of Product Marketing who happens to possess her flight attendant certification, is all smiles as she relaxes near an open door at the left rear side of ship 638 shortly after landing at the airport in Salt Lake City. All photographs ©2007 by Brian Cohen.

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