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Old February 16th, 2007, 07:58 AM   #261
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Delta Air Lines unveils 6.2 bln dlr 2006 loss

NEW YORK, Feb 14, 2007 (AFP) - US carrier Delta Air Lines, which is vying to exit bankruptcy protection in several months, reported a colossal net loss of 6.2 billion dollars for 2006 Wednesday.

The US airline said its losses had deepened significantly, from 3.8 billion in 2005, for the full year due to hefty reorganization charges.

The struggling carrier said earlier this month that it hopes to exit bankruptcy in late April after winning court backing for its plans to go it alone as an independent company.

The third-largest US airline said that excluding the hefty reorganization charges and other costs, its 2006 loss would have amounted to 406 million dollars.

The airline, which recently rebuffed a takeover offer from US Airways, said its fourth-quarter net loss amounted to 2.0 billion dollars compared with a loss of 1.2 billion dollars in the same quarter of 2005.

However, Delta also reported a full-year operating profit of 58 million dollars, saying this was a 2.1-billion-dollar improvement from 2005 and its first annual operating profit since 2000.
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Old March 8th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #262
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Delta gives more details on post-bankruptcy employee benefits
7 March 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to issue a lump-sum cash payment to many employees when the airline emerges from bankruptcy this spring, according to a newsletter sent this week to workers from Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein.

The exact amount of money was not disclosed, but the newsletter said all regular employees, not including officers and directors, will receive a lump-sum payment representing a percentage of their pay.

A majority of employees also will receive grants of unrestricted stock in the reorganized Delta.

About 1,000 leaders of the company will be granted ownership stakes in Delta, but those shares will come in different forms, such as restricted stock, stock options and performance stock, and will vest over periods of up to three years, the newsletter said. In addition, some pieces of the management awards will require Delta to meet specific performance goals for them to have any value.

Profit-sharing and other reward programs also will be set up, the newsletter said, adding that profit-sharing will pay at least 15 percent of the company's annual pretax profit, which is what's left after subtracting expenses from net revenue.

Grinstein said the company would move to an industry standard pay structure, on par with other carriers, and he said some employees would receive their first pay increases this summer.

Atlanta-based Delta has said before that employees would share in Delta's successful emergence from bankruptcy, but previously had not released details. The newsletter said employees would receive further details later.

The news follows several years of heavy pay and benefit cuts for all employees, including executives and pilots. Since 2001, Delta also has announced it would cut more than 30,000 jobs.

"Delta's transformation is a remarkable success story from a bankrupt company nearly out of cash to a company that some speculate will once again be the industry leader -- and that is certainly our goal," Grinstein said in the newsletter.

Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, filed for bankruptcy in September 2005. It projects it will be worth $9.4 billion to $12 billion when it emerges from Chapter 11, possibly as early as next month.
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Old March 16th, 2007, 02:09 PM   #263
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Delta Air Lines makes extra payment to non-pilot pension plan
15 March 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc., which terminated its pilots pension plan, said Thursday it has contributed an extra $50 million (euro38 million) to its pension plan covering ground employees and flight attendants.

The Atlanta-based company also said that it had filed its election to obtain the pension relief that was approved by Congress last year.

Delta has said it needed to terminate its pilots' defined benefit pension plan to successfully emerge from bankruptcy. The government's pension insurer took over the obligations for the pilots' pension plan in January.

Delta has said it plans to preserve its pension plan covering ground employees and flight attendants, and it reiterated that Thursday.

The third-largest U.S. carrier said that it had made a $50 million voluntary contribution to the plan.

That contribution is in addition to the required contributions that Delta will make under the funding schedule authorized by the Pension Protection Act.

Under that funding schedule, Delta expects to contribute an additional $50 million during the remainder of 2007, and thereafter make contributions that it expects will average about $100 million (euro76 million) per year for the next several years.

Both the $50 million voluntary contribution and the ongoing required contributions are included in Delta's business plan.

As for the pilots, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will pay Delta pilots who retire a benefit up to a maximum limit, which in many cases will be less than what the pilots were entitled to under the pension program at Delta. Separate agreements the airline reached with the pilots were meant to help them recoup some of the lost pension benefits.

Delta expects to emerge from bankruptcy as early as next month.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 10:13 AM   #264
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Delta Air plans $720 mln payout for staff, bosses

NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to reward employees and managers, but not its chief executive, with about $720 million in cash and stock when it exits bankruptcy in the coming weeks, the airline said.

The No. 3 U.S. carrier, which squeezed $1 billion in savings from its employees, is trying to make up for a tumultuous year and a half in bankruptcy. Since filing for Chapter 11 in September 2005, Delta slashed wages to below industry rates and dropped a pension plans for its pilots.

"These are the employees that saved the company," Chief Financial Officer Edward Bastian said in a phone interview.

Delta's generosity is fueled in part by a turnaround in the fortunes of the long-suffering U.S. airline industry. Resurgent demand and lower costs have helped the industry post profits after years of losses following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Delta said it plans to give its 39,000 non-union employees 3.5 percent of the airline's new shares, valued at about $350 million. It also plans to pay them a cash lump-sum of about $130 million. The payments work out to an average of about $12,300 per employee.

Delta's 1,200 managers will get $240 million overall, or about $200,000 each on average. But they will not get cash, and unlike regular employees, who can sell their stock immediately, the managers' awards are in the form of restricted stock, stock options, and performance shares, vesting over periods between 6 months and three years.

Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein, who led the company during its restructuring and fended off a hostile takeover bid from US Airways Group Inc. , refused an exit bonus.

Instead, Delta said it is setting up two charitable foundations at Grinstein's request to help Delta employees and their families pay for college or overcome personal hardships. Grinstein, who is 74, plans to retire shortly after Delta emerges from bankruptcy.

Delta also plans to raise non-union employee wages by about 4 percent this summer, as part of a promise to lift their wages gradually to industry standards. The extra wages will add about $60 million to annual labor costs, Bastian said.

For union and non-union employees, Delta plans to pay out 15 percent of its annual pre-tax profit and will offer monthly incentives for meeting operational targets for on-time arrivals, flight completion, and baggage handling.

The compensation plan has been approved by Delta's creditor committee. The carrier plans to exit bankruptcy in the second quarter.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 06:19 AM   #265
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Delta pilots sell bankruptcy claim to investors
12 April 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - More than 91 percent of eligible Delta Air Lines Inc. pilots have opted to sell their portion of a $2.1 billion unsecured bankruptcy claim the carrier had given them as part of pay cut talks last year, the union said Thursday.

The amount of cash each participating pilot will receive after the Atlanta-based airline exits Chapter 11 on April 30 will vary.

But the average payout would be about $185,946 based on the number of pilots participating -- roughly 6,233 -- and the total amount being paid for the claim distributions -- $1.159 billion. The total value works out to about 60 cents on the dollar.

The actual cash distribution to participating pilots will be based on their years of service, seniority and their hourly pay rate, union spokesman Buzz Hazzard said.

Those pilots who did not opt to take the cash payout will retain their portion of the $2.1 billion unsecured claim. Like other unsecured creditors, once Delta exits bankruptcy they will receive new shares of Delta stock.

Delta's reorganization plan calls for unsecured creditors to get between 62 percent and 78 percent of the amount of their allowed claims in the form of shares.

"One of the advantages in a claim sale is you get your cash up front and you don't have to wait for the resolutions to take place," Hazzard said.

The chairman of the union's executive committee, Lee Moak, did not disclose in a memo to pilots Thursday who is buying the claim distributions from the pilots. Hazzard described the buyers as institutional investors. He couldn't say how many there are or who they are.

As part of a deal reached in April 2006 for $280 million in average annual concessions by Delta pilots, the airline agreed to give the pilots $650 million in notes, conditioned on termination of the pilot retirement plan, and a $2.1 billion unsecured claim to help the pilots in retirement and for other payments or distributions to pilots. The pilot pension plan was later terminated.

Hazzard said the union was meeting Thursday to discuss how the $650 million in notes will be distributed to the pilots.

Delta has estimated it will be worth $9.4 billion to $12 billion when it emerges from Chapter 11.

A confirmation hearing on the airline's reorganization plan is scheduled for April 25 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2005.
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Old April 17th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #266
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Delta creditors vote in favor of reorganization

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc. <DALRQ.PK> said on Monday that creditors overwhelmingly approved its reorganization plan, setting the stage for the airline to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by early May.

The company said creditors holding more than 95 percent of the claims against it voted in favor of the plan, based on an initial tally.

In the reorganization, current Delta shares would become worthless and new shares would return Delta to New York Stock Exchange listing. After its Chapter 11 filing, trading in Delta shares moved to the Pink Sheets.

"We are looking forward to a strong future as we emerge from bankruptcy," Delta Chief Financial Officer Edward Bastian said in a statement.

To emerge from Chapter 11, bankrupt companies need two-thirds of the value of their claims to be voted in favor of their reorganization plan.

On April 25, Delta -- which filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2005 after racking up more than $18 billion in debt -- will ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to confirm its reorganization plan, allowing it to leave Chapter 11.

Delta said similar numbers were also voted in favor of the reorganization plan of its bankrupt unit Comair.

Delta has said it may sell Comair, which provides regional service for Delta, after both carriers exit bankruptcy. (Additional reporting by Anup Roy in Bangalore)
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Old April 18th, 2007, 06:36 AM   #267
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always good to read your articles hkskyline
and i think the title is misleading now that delta isn't in the position it once was very near extinction, at the time the article was written
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Old April 18th, 2007, 03:11 PM   #268
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$6billionUSD loss? holy frak.
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Old April 20th, 2007, 07:32 PM   #269
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Delta Air Lines to resume JFK-Tel Aviv flights in '08

TEL AVIV, April 18 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines said on Wednesday it planned to restart daily non-stop flights between New York City and Tel Aviv next year as part of its international expansion.

Delta, the third-largest U.S. carrier in terms of passenger traffic, had briefly flown the Tel Aviv-New York route in mid-2001 but flights were halted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

As part of a plan to maximise revenues, Delta last year began operating flights between its main Atlanta hub and Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport along with 13 other non-U.S. cities. Three more routes -- Pisa/Florence, Prague and Bucharest -- will start in 2007.

"The yields we have been experiencing on international routes are strong," Frank Jahangir, Delta's head of sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters after a news conference in Tel Aviv.

Delta has already increased revenue from international flights to 35 percent from 20 percent just a few years ago. Jahangir said it should rise further to 40 percent by the end of the year.

"We hope that by 2008, 2009 we will get a 50-50 split," he said of the ratio of international and U.S. revenues.

Delta is expected to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by early May, after creditors this week overwhelmingly approved the airline's reorganisation plan.

"This will give us the confidence to make an even more ambitious (expansion) plan," Jahangir said.

Jahangir said the resumption of a flight between Tel Aviv and John F. Kennedy Airport beginning on March 12, 2008, was largely prompted by surpassed expectations of the daily Atlanta-Tel Aviv flight, in which many passengers used the flight to connect to flights to the West Coast and southeast.

He noted that the flight, using Boeing 777 aircraft, has an average load factor of 80 percent and the route is Delta's sixth-largest market across the Atlantic.

The new Tel Aviv flight will use much smaller Boeing 767 aircraft, and Delta will become the first U.S. carrier to offer flights from the growing Israeli market to two U.S. cities.

Over the past six years, Delta has been code-sharing flights to New York on El Al Israel Airlines . But Delta said that agreement would end on Oct. 27.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 04:16 AM   #270
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Delta Narrows Loss in First Quarter
23 April 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc., a week away from exiting bankruptcy, reported Monday that it narrowed its loss in the first quarter on an 11.4 percent rise in sales.

The nation's third-largest carrier said it lost $130 million in the three months ending March 31, compared to a loss of $2.07 billion for the same period a year ago. The year-ago loss included $2 million in dividends that accrued for preferred shareholders.

Excluding reorganization and special items, Delta said it lost $6 million in the latest quarter.

Delta's balance sheet did not list per-share figures.

Revenue in the first quarter rose to $4.14 billion, compared to $3.72 billion for the same period a year ago.

As of March 31, Delta had $2.9 billion in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

Atlanta-based Delta, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 14, 2005, is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 on April 30. Its existing stock will be canceled, and it will issue new shares to pay creditors and generate new investors.

A confirmation hearing on its reorganization plan is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. An overwhelming majority of creditors have voted to approve the plan, which values Delta at $9.4 billion to $12 billion upon emergence from Chapter 11. Delta's new stock is expected to begin trading in early May.

Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein told investors in a conference call Monday, the first quarterly earnings call hosted by the company since entering Chapter 11, that the company is confident it will get court approval to exit bankruptcy protection as scheduled. He said Delta expects to emerge with the second-highest market capitalization in the industry.

"This is a very meaningful time for everyone here at Delta," Grinstein said.

Grinstein will be stepping down as CEO once a replacement for him is chosen by Delta's new board of directors. Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian and Chief Operating Officer James Whitehurst are leading internal candidates. To date, no external candidates have been mentioned.

Bastian said during the conference call that Delta is still determining how fresh-start accounting will affect its prior projections for future earnings. The company is expected to give investors an update on the issue by the end of the month, he said.

Bastian said that on the whole Delta, which has recorded more than $18 billion in net losses since January 2001, is very positive about its financial future.

"There's no doubt these are extraordinary times in Delta's history," Bastian said. He added, "Clearly, the magnitude of change that is occurring here is dramatic."
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Old April 27th, 2007, 10:55 AM   #271
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Judge OKs Delta Air Lines Chapter 11 exit plan
26 April 2007

NEW YORK (AP) - Delta Air Lines is exiting bankruptcy and re-entering an increasingly competitive market in which its success depends on operating with a lean labor force and expanding its international flights.

The newly restructured airline was under Chapter 11 protection for almost two years and cut 6,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual costs. On Wednesday, it received approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Adlai Hardin to emerge from bankruptcy as an independent company.

Delta, the nation's third-largest airline, estimates it will be worth $9.4 billion to $12 billion.

More than 95 percent of creditors voted to endorse the plan for Delta to leave bankruptcy as a stand alone carrier. That plan had been put in jeopardy by a $9.8 billion hostile takeover bid launched last fall by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. Delta successfully persuaded creditors to back its blueprint to emerge from bankruptcy and reject the buyout offer.

Airline industry analyst Robert Mann said Delta was not likely to try to combine with another carrier in the near term. Industry watchers have speculated that Delta might join with Northwest Airlines Corp., which filed for bankruptcy the same day Delta did.

Mann said an acquisition was less likely outside of bankruptcy.

"That sense of urgency has passed, not because it really has, but because the perception is that we've dodged that bullet," Mann said. "I think it's a decidedly positive event for Delta."

He said Delta's success depends on its ability to grow its international routes, and its expansion was by no means guaranteed. The international air travel marketplace is increasingly competitive, especially given the possibility of more competition on routes across the Atlantic and to China.

Now that it is leaving court protection, Delta may sell off its regional carrier subsidiary, Erlanger, Ky.-based Comair, which has received poor marks for lost baggage and flight delays.

Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein said Wednesday not to expect any "immediate action" on Comair since the company has a new board of directors.

Delta's board will also choose a successor to Grinstein, who plans to retire. Grinstein, who is 74, has said the two leading internal candidates are Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian and Chief Operating Officer James Whitehurst.

Delta will celebrate its emergence Monday in Atlanta. Shares in the reorganized Delta, with the ticker symbol DAL, are scheduled to begin trading again Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I feel elated," Grinstein said. "For the 47,000 (employees) ... they're the ones who went through all the angst and made the sacrifices. It's for them I feel extreme relief."

Delta's reorganization plan will give unsecured creditors between 62 percent and 78 percent of the value of their allowed claims as shares of new Delta stock.

The company's existing stock, which will be worthless, continued to trade until the court's approval of the plan. The shares fell 3.5 cents, or 21.2 percent, Wednesday to 13 cents on the Pink Sheets, an over-the-counter electronic trading platform.

Since January 2001, the company has lost a total of more than $18 billion. In recent months, though, Delta's financial situation has improved, with the company projecting a 2007 pretax profit of $816 million, excluding special charges and reorganization costs.

Delta filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 14, 2005, amid high fuel prices and the burdens of soaring labor and retirement benefits expenses.

Since then, passengers on all airlines have experienced growing flight delays as staffs are trimmed and fares go up, driven by rising fuel costs. While in bankruptcy, Delta had expanded its international flights and will continue growing that part of the business, focusing on John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Delta now flies to 307 destinations in 52 countries, with flights going to 31 trans-Atlantic stops. It added more than 60 new international routes last year alone.

Delta now employs 47,000 people. Next week, 39,000 of them are expected to receive cash and new stock in Delta worth a total of $480 million. The total equity stake the employees will get equals 3.5 percent of the company. Delta is also giving 1,200 managers a 2.5 percent stake, valued at $240 million, in the reorganized company.

Grinstein said the board would hold a regularly scheduled meeting over dinner Wednesday night.

------

AP Business Writer Harry Weber in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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Old April 30th, 2007, 08:52 AM   #272
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Day for Delta to Exit Bankruptcy Arrives
29 April 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc. has undergone a major facelift during more than a year and a half in bankruptcy, but other changes are on the way as the nation's No. 3 carrier exits Chapter 11 on Monday.

Among other things, it has set aside $10 million for a rebranding effort, the company's chief bankruptcy lawyer, Marshall Huebner, said in court recently. Executives at Delta also have said that after the company exits bankruptcy, it will consider shedding Comair, a Delta subsidiary that provides regional service for the airline.

Delta's outgoing chief executive, Gerald Grinstein, said last week he did not expect any "immediate action" on Erlanger, Ky.-based Comair since Delta has a new board of directors.

Doug Abbey, a partner in the aviation consulting firm The Velocity Group, said he expects Delta to make a decision on Comair fairly quickly.

"I suspect that's one of the first orders of business coming out of bankruptcy," Abbey said. "I can't even predict how that's going to go."

Delta's board also will be looking for a new CEO to replace Grinstein, 74, who has said he plans to step down once his successor is appointed.

Meanwhile, a Delta spokeswoman, Betsy Talton, said "additional investments in Delta's image will be unveiled" at a news conference at the company's Atlanta headquarters a few hours after the airline exits bankruptcy protection. Talton declined to give details ahead of the announcement.

Repainting its planes is something that could help Delta with its brand image, but would take time to complete for a fleet consisting of several hundred aircraft, Abbey said.

"I think it's appropriate because this is clearly a new Delta, but in and of themselves, these things tend to be a very long-term project," Abbey said.

A new advertising campaign also could be in Delta's future, Abbey said.

The initiatives would be on top of major changes that Delta put in place while in bankruptcy, including restructuring its fleet, expanding international service, improving aircraft cabins, cutting costs and eliminating more jobs.

On the financial side, existing shares of Delta's stock will be canceled at the time the airline exits bankruptcy. Shares of new stock will be issued to creditors and begin trading publicly on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. That day, Delta executives will ring the closing bell from the floor of the NYSE.

The company says 400 million shares will be issued, putting the target initial public offering at $23.50 a share to $30 a share based on Delta's projected valuation of $9.4 billion to $12 billion.

Delta's reorganization plan will give unsecured creditors between 62 percent and 78 percent of the value of their allowed claims as shares of new Delta stock. Delta employees also will get a lump-sum cash payment from the airline based on a percentage of their salary and will receive an equity stake in the reorganized company. Checks to employees are to be issued Tuesday.

More than 95 percent of creditors voted to endorse the plan for Delta to leave bankruptcy, and a federal bankruptcy judge in New York on April 25 gave the airline the green light to exit Chapter 11 on Monday. Conditions included closing on a $2.5 billion loan that will be used to repay another loan that helped fund the airline's operations while in bankruptcy.

The company is hosting a series of celebratory events starting Monday. Top executives will address employees and brief reporters. They also will spend 10 days visiting select cities, including Salt Lake City, Boston and Washington, to attend employee receptions.

Delta entered Chapter 11 on Sept. 14, 2005, amid high fuel prices and the burdens of high labor and pension expenses. Delta significantly reduced its labor and pension costs while under court protection. As of March 31, the company had 52,260 full-time employees, according to a regulatory filing Friday. The figure includes subsidiary Comair.

The bankruptcy process has been expensive for Delta, which has run up more than $127.9 million in bills for fees and expenses for its lawyers, consultants and advisers through the end of January. It could spend tens of millions more once the final fee and expense requests are dealt with.

As Delta looks to its future outside of bankruptcy and it seeks to return to profitability after billions in losses the last six years, competition will continue to be an issue it will have to deal with.

Abbey said that means there won't been any room for failure on Delta's business plan.

"It's important that operationally speaking, there aren't any disasters," he said.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 05:12 AM   #273
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Facts on Delta Air Lines

NEW YORK, April 30, 2007 (AFP) - Here are key facts and figures on Delta Air Lines, the third largest US airline, which emerged Monday from 19 months of bankruptcy protection:

-- The airline traces its roots to Delta Air Service created in 1928 in Mississippi, founded by C.E. Woolman and with its inaugural flight on June 17, 1929. The chief executive since 2004 has been Gerald Grinstein.

-- Delta lost 130 million dollars in the first three months of 2007. In 2006 it posted a net loss of 6.2 billion dollars, including 5.4 billion in reorganization costs.

-- Revenues for the first quarter were up 11 percent at 4.1 billion dollars. For 2006, turnover was up six percent at 17.1 billion.

-- Delta has cut some five billion dollars from annual operating costs from a base in 2002, including concessions on pay and benefits from pilots and other employee groups.

-- Delta had a total of 47,000 employees at the end of April, including 6,000 pilots, compared with a workforce of 66,500 in October 2005.

-- The third largest US airline, Delta serves some 307 destinations in 52 countries. In 2006, Delta increased international flights by some 20 percent and expects to continue the trend in 2007. Last year, Delta generated 35 percent of its revenues from international flights.

Overall, the airline served 106.8 million passengers in 2006, compared with 11 million in 2004.

-- Delta operates 475 aircraft, down from 535 in October 2005. It is set to receive 10 Boeing 757 jets this year and one Boeing 777 in 2008. Most of its planes are made by Boeing, with none coming from European manufacturer Airbus.
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Old May 3rd, 2007, 06:52 PM   #274
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Delta to Offer Non-Stop Flights to Atlanta From Dubai

DUBAI, May 3 Asia Pulse - Delta Air Lines will enable travellers from Dubai to reach anywhere in North America by the following day when it begins its non-stop overnight flights to Atlanta from June 1, 2007.

Delta flight DL7 will depart from five times per week Dubai at 10:45 in the evening and touch down in Atlanta at 5:40am next day. The early morning arrival in Atlanta will enable customers to take advantage of the onward connections at the world's largest single airline hub which has services to over 230 destinations. These include flights to all 50 US states as well as 70 international stops in 45 countries.

"Transit passengers can be entering Disneyland Florida by mid-morning, be in New York or San Francisco in time for a business lunch, or even enjoying afternoon tea after already having checked in to their hotel in Honolulu," said Jimmy Eichelgruen, Delta regional director of sales for the Middle East in a statement.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 07:43 PM   #275
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Tuesday May 8, 8:21 PM
Delta's Big Bet on Foreign Flying
Businessweek

With cowbells and confetti, Delta Air Lines (DAL) executives and employees celebrated their comeback as a publicly traded company after 19 months in bankruptcy. It had been difficult work: a near-fatal liquidity crunch, a hostile takeover bid by US Airways Group (LCC), and thousands of jettisoned jobs and other cuts to win creditors' approval for the reorganization.

Immediately after the May 4 celebration, the Atlanta-based airline's top brass hopped a flight to New York to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYX). "Welcome to independence day," Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian said, beaming.

But Delta's future performance may not hinge on domestic routes like that Atlanta-to-New York trek, which it flies 31 times a day. Instead, whether Delta meets its lofty revenue and income goals--which would likely enable it to be an acquirer, and not the target, in any future airline consolidation--will hinge on its success in such far-flung destinations as Accra, D sseldorf, Vienna, and Mumbai. That's because with lower-cost rivals such as AirTran Airways (AAI), JetBlue (JBLU), Southwest (LUV), and even US Airways providing fierce competition in Delta's domestic network, the carrier needs to generate more of its revenue stream from international routes where the discounters don't fly.

The Italian Connection
For much of its history, Delta lagged far behind most legacy rivals such as AMR Corp.'s (AMR) American Airlines, Continental Airlines (CAL), and Northwest Airlines (NWACQ) when it came to overseas markets. Whereas those other carriers derive 40% to 60% of their revenues from higher-margin international routes, Delta's share was in the teens as recently as the 1980s and never rose above 20% even after its 1991 acquisition of Pan Am's international routes. Sensing the need to change that, Delta Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein set out in 2005 to find a new network chief who could help the carrier plant its flag--profitably--in more overseas markets.

In an interview, Grinstein recalled one day reading an article in an industry newsletter on Alitalia, the Italian state-owned carrier, that extensively quoted a top executive named Glen Hauenstein. "I thought, 'That's the damnedest Italian name I've ever heard,'" Grinstein recalls. "I thought, 'This guy must be good if he can rise to the top of an airline [partly] owned by the Italian government.'"

Grinstein picked up the phone and called an old friend, ex-Continental CEO Gordon Bethune, for whom Hauenstein had previously worked during a stint at Continental. "I told Jerry that Glen was as good as they came," Bethune recalls. "Jerry said, 'We're in bankruptcy. I don't think I can afford to hire him.' I said, 'Jerry, you can't afford not to hire him. He'll make you $30 million in his first 30 days. He's worth whatever you pay him.'" Grinstein ponied up the cash. "This is the last great airline turnaround left," says Hauenstein, who started in mid-2005. "I wanted to be part of that."

Second-Tier Markets
Hauenstein immediately began beefing up Delta's international presence, though he was working with considerable handicaps--namely, that rivals like United (UAUA) and American had virtually locked up most of the slots made available for U.S. carriers in such top-tier airports as London's Heathrow and Paris' Charles de Gaulle International. That forced Hauenstein to shift his focus to second-tier markets such as Nice and Venice, as well as emerging markets like Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Nice and Venice have traditionally been tourist destinations and haven't attracted the corporate travelers who are willing to pay $5,000 or more for a business-class seat abroad. And while other U.S. airlines have initially launched new international service with smaller aircraft like the 172-seat Boeing 757, those midsize planes happen to be in short supply at Delta. Instead, the carrier has had to use 214-seat Boeing 767s, which guzzle more fuel and give Delta more capacity than it needs in some of these fledgling markets.

Still, rival airlines question whether Delta can turn a profit by flying only four times a week on some of these new routes, since its pilots are still being paid for the 48 hours of down time until they fly the return trip. And rivals acknowledge that while Delta seemed to have done well filling up its new international routes during the busy summer travel season, they question whether Delta's flights into markets such as Kiev and Bucharest will remain profitable during the brutal winters in those cities. "Let's see how they're doing in Kiev in February," says the president of one rival airline.

Plan Has Its Doubters
And the carrier still faces a battle to win the loyalties of business travelers, given that Delta hadn't updated its business-class service in eight years and doesn't offer as many business-class amenities on its international flights as do competitors like United. Indeed, at a publicity event last fall in New York to promote its new JFK-to-London Gatwick service--an event at which Delta brought together three former James Bond girls--actress Grace Jones admitted to The New York Observer that she was coincidentally flying to London the next morning. "Not on Delta, though," she said. "I need me a sleeper bed, so I'm flying British Airways. Oh, whoops. Was I not supposed to say that?"

Adding to Hauenstein's challenges is the task of making Delta's hub at New York's cramped John F. Kennedy Airport--where it has a mere 23 gates--serve as the hub for many of these international flights. "All they're doing is re-creating the old Pan Am hub, and we all know how that worked out for Pan Am," says Robert Mann, principal with R.W. Mann & Co., a Port Washington [N.Y.]-based aviation consultancy. For his part, Grinstein takes umbrage at such criticism--arguing that Pan Am failed because, as other airlines began flying their own international flights out of other cities, Pan Am was unable to attract the feed into New York to fill its planes. Grinstein says that Hauenstein has done a masterful job of designing routes that feed traffic into Delta's international flights.

"Nothing but Blue Sky"
For their part, Delta executives remain resolute in their belief that the international expansion will pay rich dividends. Of all the overseas markets into which Delta has launched service in the past two years, "nothing is underperforming," says Hauenstein--including Kiev, he notes. While Delta doesn't break out the profitability of either individual markets or its international operations as a whole, Hauenstein said recently that international unit revenue--the revenue per seat per mile flown--rose more than 5% in the first three months of 2007, even though international capacity into Latin America and trans-Atlantic markets rose by 32% and 22%, respectively. And in a conference call with analysts in late April, Chief Operating Officer Jim Whitehurst said that summer bookings for Delta's international routes were "surging." Already, Hauenstein has boosted the share of revenues Delta derives from international routes to 35%, and he says that figure will hit 40% during the busy summer season.

And Hauenstein expects even bigger gains in the future. In coming months, the carrier will launch direct service to new markets including Seoul and Dubai, and hopes to gain three to six slots at London's Heathrow Airport when the new pact liberalizing flights between the U.S. and Europe begins in March, 2008. For all the talk that Delta is a latecomer to the international arena, Hauenstein isn't buying it. "The international landscape has not been adequately exploited by the U.S. carriers," he says. "U.S. carriers are still handing traffic hand over fist to the international carriers. We see nothing but blue sky."
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:56 AM   #276
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Friday May 11, 9:33 PM
Delta raises domestic air fares $5 each way

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc. said on Friday that it raised domestic U.S. air fares $5 each way, testing pricing power a week after a similar effort failed.

Delta said it was raising walk-up and advance-purchase tickets on flights across the U.S. to offset cost pressure, especially on jet fuel, said spokeswoman Betsy Talton.

A similar fare increase, led by Continental Airlines , a week ago collapsed as rivals failed to match.

Airlines, which are gearing up for the busy summer travel season, have sought to raise fares to offset higher costs of jet fuel, which vies with labor as an airline's largest expense. The price of jet fuel has risen about 17 percent over the last four months.

But softening demand amid a weakening U.S. economy has made it difficult for airlines to pass on these higher costs.

Five attempts to raise fares so far this year have largely been unsuccessful, falling apart under competitive pressure, especially from discount carriers like Southwest Airlines Co.

Fares typically rise in the run up to the summer travel season, but prices this year have been flat and are now about 10 percent below where they were a year ago, said Neil Bainton, chief operating officer at fare tracker FareCompare.com.
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Old June 19th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #277
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Delta deciding whether to purchase Boeing or Airbus jets
19 June 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc. will likely decide by the end of the year whether to go with Chicago-based Boeing Co. or European rival Airbus to replace its fleet of Boeing 767 jets, its chief operating officer said Tuesday.

Speaking from the weeklong Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, Jim Whitehurst said the Atlanta-based airline was deciding between Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.

"We're not placing an order," Whitehurst said. "It's in the assessment phase."

Whitehurst did not give specific numbers but said the order would be for "well over 100" new planes.

"Obviously, it would be a massive order when we make that decision," he said.

Whitehurst spoke with The Associated Press after The Wall Street Journal reported Whitehurst told the newspaper Delta may order as many as 125 of Boeing's 787 Dreamliners by the end of the year.

Whitehurst told the Journal the order is still being negotiated while Delta considers seat configurations and how much the planes would cost to operate and maintain.

The move to replace its fleet of 104 767s comes as Delta looks to expand its international service.

Since emerging from bankruptcy on April 30, the airline has outlined plans to cut domestic capacity and increase internationally. The airline said most of its international growth would be based in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and an air route to China would be key to the plan.

The 787 Dreamliner, the first commercial jet made of light, sturdy, carbon-fiber composites instead of aluminum, has been a big seller for Chicago-based Boeing. Heading into the weeklong Paris Air Show, Boeing had already pocketed 584 orders for the Dreamliner, compared with Airbus' total of 13 firm orders and 142 non-final commitments for its A350.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 07:04 AM   #278
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Delta's legal, consulting tab in Chap. 11 at least $168 million
27 June 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc. racked up at least $168.6 million in bills from lawyers, consultants and advisers during the 19 1/2 months it was in bankruptcy, according to an Associated Press analysis of final fee and expense applications that have been filed.

The total is roughly half what UAL Corp.'s United Airlines spent on lawyers and consultants while it was in bankruptcy. However, the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based airline was under Chapter 11 protection twice as long as Delta.

Twenty-eight firms, groups and individuals filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York over the last two weeks seeking payment for several months of work for Delta as well as final approval for all their bills while the airline was in Chapter 11. A hearing on the requests is set for Aug. 20. Any more requests filed in the future would add to the total.

Delta, the nation's third-largest airline, entered Chapter 11 on Sept. 14, 2005. The Atlanta-based company emerged on April 30.

According to the applications, Delta already has paid much of the money sought in the fee and expense requests.

Exceptions include a $10.5 million "restructuring fee" Delta owes financial adviser Blackstone Advisory Services LP and a $2.52 million "success fee" it owes financial adviser Babcock & Brown LP.

The largest amount of total fees and expenses billed to Delta by a single firm during the Chapter 11 case was $40.6 million by Davis Polk & Wardwell, the airline's chief bankruptcy firm, records show.

Delta officials have repeatedly said the fees and expenses were worth it, considering that the lawyers, consultants and advisers helped the airline shed billions in costs and restructure the carrier's operations. Some also helped Delta survive a hostile takeover bid by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc.

After exiting bankruptcy, Delta unveiled plans for a new paint job for its planes, featuring the company's three-dimensional red logo flying across a blue background on the tail of aircraft. The new logo is to appear on more than 900 Delta and Delta Connection planes, at airports and on Delta advertising. The primary color of the new logo is a solid red instead of the familiar red-and-blue color scheme.

Delta's board still must find a new chief executive officer to replace outgoing CEO Gerald Grinstein and decide whether to sell or spin off regional feeder carrier Comair. The airline has not provided a specific timetable for either decision.

The top internal candidates for CEO are Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian and Chief Operating Officer James Whitehurst. No external candidates have been mentioned publicly.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 07:00 AM   #279
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Delta posts $1.77 billion profit in second quarter
18 July 2007

ATLANTA (AP) - Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, cited a 5.5 percent gain in sales as it reported Wednesday that it swung to a profit in the second quarter, which saw it emerge from bankruptcy after shaving billions of dollars in costs.

The Atlanta-based company's results beat Wall Street expectations when one-time items are excluded.

Also Wednesday, outgoing Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein told investors and analysts during a conference call that Delta's board will likely choose his successor by the end of the summer, at which point he will retire. He had initially said he planned to leave soon after Delta emerged from Chapter 11, but later extended that timeline. He said during the call the board is taking a deliberative approach to finding his replacement "given the magnitude of this decision."

The top internal candidates for CEO are Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian and Chief Operating Officer James Whitehurst. No external candidates have been mentioned publicly.

Grinstein said during a conference call with reporters that Bastian and Whitehurst have not been distracted in their duties during the search.

"There may be more pins and needles on the outside than on the inside," Grinstein said. "The company is functioning very well internally."

Delta shares rose 18 cents to $21.37 Wednesday.

For the three months ending June 30, Delta said it recorded net income of $1.77 billion, or $4.49 a share, compared to a loss of $2.21 billion in the same period a year earlier. The corresponding per-share figure for the year-ago loss was not provided in Delta's balance sheet.

Excluding reorganization and related one-time items, Delta said it had a profit of $274 million, or 70 cents a share, in the second quarter. On a comparable basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting a profit of 59 cents a share.

The reorganization and related one-time items Delta accounted for in the second quarter of this year stemmed from $1.5 billion of income primarily due to the discharge of claims and liabilities in connection with its bankruptcy proceedings and the adoption of fresh-start reporting.

Revenue in the April-June quarter rose to $5 billion, compared to $4.74 billion recorded in the same period a year earlier.

At the end of the quarter, Delta had $3.7 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, of which $3.4 billion was unrestricted. Delta also has an additional $1 billion in unrestricted liquidity available under its undrawn revolving credit facility.

Delta recorded roughly $40 million in cash gains on fuel hedge contracts settled during the quarter.

For the first six months of the year, Delta said its net income was $1.64 billion, compared to a loss of $4.28 billion for the same period a year earlier. Per-share figures were not given. Six-month revenue rose to $9.24 billion, compared to revenue of $8.54 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Grinstein said he was pleased by the results.

"We are focused on the future," Grinstein said.

Delta entered Chapter 11 on Sept. 14, 2005. The company emerged on April 30.

In bankruptcy, Delta shed billions in costs and restructured the carrier's operations. It also survived a hostile takeover bid by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc.

Delta executives, faced with questions about a post-bankruptcy valuation below what they initially projected and below what US Airways offered for Delta, declined to speculate Wednesday about whether the airline would consider a merger with another carrier to increase shareholder value.

Bastian said during the analyst call that Delta is looking at "opportunities to enhance shareholder value," though he wasn't specific, adding, "The silence you hear from us is not wanting to get out in front of a new board. Don't read or not read anything into that."

Besides finding a new CEO, Delta's board also must decide whether to sell or spin off regional feeder carrier Comair. The airline has not provided a specific timetable for that decision.

Bastian said during the analyst call that Comair will always play an important role at Delta either under its fold or "potentially as a contract carrier." Later, in a call with reporters, he said "no decision about whether we should or shouldn't" shed the Erlanger, Ky.-based company has been made.
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Old July 20th, 2007, 06:45 AM   #280
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If Delta wants my business, they can start by getting rid of their 50-seat Canadair jets... or at least ripping the seats out and replacing them with 1x2 seats like the Embraer ERJ-145 has. I had the misfortune of flying MIA-CVG, CVG-CID, and back, on Delta/Comair in one of those horrid Canadair jets.

It was, without a doubt, absolutely the worst, most uncomfortable plane I've ever been subjected to in my life. Forget about trying to use a laptop. It's impossible. If the seat in front of you reclines even slightly, you'll have the spacebar in your chest and still won't be able to open the screen 90 degrees. And forget about trying to type... if you have a window seat, one arm will be pinned against the wall, and the other will be elbowing the private parts of the guy sitting next to you. Yeah, it really IS that bad. Oh, and the fuselage curves so much, you can't even set the foot nearest to it straight down, because it'll hit the wall as it curves inward.

Before the trip, I never paid much attention to the plane itself when making reservations, other than to try and avoid sitting near the rear on a 727 due to the engine noise. Now, I'll be damned if I ever voluntarily ride on one of those horrible jets again. If you're making travel reservations and see the word "Canadair" somewhere, do not buy the ticket unless you want to spend several long hours in complete misery.
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