It's official: Northwest to serve Coke

Coke is here to stay on Delta Air Lines flights.

The two Atlanta-based companies will continue their decades-long partnership for in-flight beverages, even as Delta integrates operations with its Pepsi-serving merger partner Northwest Airlines.

Delta’s August issue of its Sky in-flight magazine confirms that Northwest flights will serve Coca-Cola beverages. The switch begins on Saturday.

“We look forward to continuing our 80-year partnership with Delta, and we are delighted that Northwest will begin offering a selection of Coca-Cola beverages to its passengers,” Coca-Cola spokesman Ray Crockett said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

Although Pepsi drinks will no longer be served on Northwest flights, Delta said it will preserve Northwest’s relationship with Pepsi by serving more snacks from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division in coming months.

Delta vice president of marketing Tim Mapes said earlier this year that there were “contracts in place with each of the two entities that have got to be addressed. . . . There definitely will be financial considerations that we will be taking into account.”

Delta President Ed Bastian, a former Pepsi executive, said in an interview last year, “It’ll be Coke. That’s not a hard one.”

Delta and Coca-Cola have close ties as corporate forces in the city. Coca-Cola board member Ron Allen is a former chairman, president and chief executive of Delta.

Back in 1993, Northwest became the first major airline to offer passengers a choice between Coke and Pepsi, after Pepsi persuaded it to make the move. Coca-Cola was the exclusive soft-drink provider for seven of the 10 largest U.S. airlines. Pepsi was the exclusive provider on one, Northwest. American is supplied by both Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Alaska Airlines carries beverages by Jones Soda.