Delta CEO plans to add jobs in Minn.

Published 9:36 am Monday, May 20, 2013

VIRGINIA — The chief executive of Delta Air Lines said he plans to add jobs at the carrier’s reservation center in the northeastern Minnesota city of Chisholm.

CEO Richard Anderson said that his airline wants to invest in the facility and keep it growing. It currently has about 500 full-time-equivalent employees, well above the goal of 350 set before it opened in 1996 with financial help from the state. Employee turnover is low.

“We want to do more investment in the facility … expand and continue to grow. We’re in the process of hiring more right now,” Anderson said Saturday by phone from Atlanta, where Delta is headquartered.

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Anderson was on the Iron Range on Thursday to spend time with employees at the reservation center which belonged to Northwest Airlines before Delta acquired Northwest in 2008.

He said he was “totally inept” when he tried his hand at doing some customer service work there.

Anderson said the future of the Chisholm center is bright, even with the growth in competition from Internet airline reservation services, because of its role in Delta’s frequent-flyer program.

“It’s an important part of our SkyMiles program,” he said. “Yes, there’s a lot of technology coming to bear for us, but the Chisholm center is the top-performing center in the Delta system. It’s been a real success.”

The center is one of the largest non-mining employers in the region. All its employees have the option to work out of their homes, and about 60 do so. Anderson said even more could if better high-speed Internet service was available on the Range.

“If we had that we could grow the employment levels and draw from a larger pool,” Anderson said, adding that Delta and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board should work together to upgrade the region’s infrastructure.