Facebook Twitter

Delta’s creditors back off request

SHARE Delta’s creditors back off request

Delta Air Lines Inc. creditors withdrew a bankruptcy court request to pursue price-fixing claims against owners of airplanes leased by the carrier.

Delta's committee of unsecured creditors dropped its objection to court approval of new lease terms on 88 planes, or about 17 percent of the fleet. Delta, the third-largest U.S. airline and operator of a hub at Salt Lake City International Airport, says the agreements will save $200 million a year.

"These are serious issues that the committee took seriously," Daniel Golden, a lawyer for the creditors' panel, said Monday at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. "At the end of the day, the committee determined that it needed the resolution that it reached today."

The agreement with creditors allows Delta to seek court approval of the lease terms at a Wednesday hearing without opposition. As part of the accord, Delta, which filed the 10th largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, waived any claims it may have against the aircraft owners.

"We are pleased that the parties were able to arrive at a consensual agreement that, subject to court approval and final documentation, will produce approximately $200 million of annual savings for Delta compared with its existing rent and debt service obligations," Delta spokesman Michael Freitag said in a statement.

"These cost reductions are a critical element in Delta's restructuring plan, which calls for $3 billion in annual revenue and cost benefits," he said.

The creditors' committee was seeking court permission to file claims against the owners of the aircraft and to allow Delta to back out of new contracts and seek terms that would "save millions of dollars" for the airline.

The panel alleged in court documents that the owners were "colluding to fix prices on contracts for the use of the aircraft on a going forward basis and using the threat of a group boycott to exact above-market terms."

Delta filed for bankruptcy protection Sept. 14 with $21.6 billion in assets and $28.3 billion in debt. It was the second-largest bankruptcy filing of the year by assets, behind Calpine Corp.'s Dec. 20 filing, in which the power-plant owner reported $26.6 billion in assets and $22.5 billion in debt.

Shares of Delta closed unchanged at 57 cents Monday in over-the-counter trading. The airline's 7.29 percent notes maturing in September rose 7 cents to 83 cents on the dollar, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the NASD.