It was five years ago Wednesday that Delta (DAL) announced a joint venture with AirFrance, bringing the hub at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport into Delta’s network.

This is a story about how successful businesses create visions of the future and then, over time, translate them into reality.

On a conference call with reporters following the announcement, Executive Vice President Glen Hauenstein said that KLM and Northwest “have had incredible success” building the Amsterdam hub through an alliance. “If they can make such a success of Detroit to Amsterdam, what kind of success can we have on better routes like Atlanta and New York to Paris?” he asked.