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Posted by R. Neal Delta Airlines is inarguably one of the South's greatest business success stories. Delta started with the purchase of a Macon, Georgia crop dusting service in Its first passenger flight was inon a route from Dallas to Jackson, Mississippi by way of Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana using Travel Air SB airplanes that carried five passengers and one pilot.
Delta moved its headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta in With its purchase of Pan Am's trans-Atlantic routes inDelta has grown to become the second largest domestic carrier in terms of passengers, third in revenues, and the top trans-Atlantic carrier.
Today, Delta has nearly 70, employees and aircraft, and operates daily flights to destinations in 88 countries. There is also speculation that the post-Katrina spike in fuel costs, and tightening of Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws which take effect October 17th were the "tipping point. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and the Crown Room there for some is like a home away from home for travelers in the South. It's possible, though, that Delta might not survive bankruptcy despite their best efforts.
According to industry analysts, most airlines don't : Click "there's more" for the rest of the article the voice for a changing South. Donate Today.
Toggle. Facebook Twitter Subscribe Donate. Neal September 20, The runway is littered with once proud names such as Pan Am and TWA, which could not survive repeated bankruptcies as the industry struggled to cope with deregulation. High fuel and pension costs are driving the next wave of carriers to bankruptcy court.
Continental filed for bankruptcy in andbut managed to reshape itself, making inro into the transatlantic market, and is one of the strongest U. America West went into bankruptcy in the early s, but fought back to a strong position and is now helping US Airways out of bankruptcy with a merger deal.
Trans World Airlines, or TWA, went into bankruptcy three times from to until it was finally liquidated. Eastern Airlines and Braniff went out of business in the early s after bouts of Chapter 11 protection in the troubled s.
Even Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein concedes that bankruptcy may not save the airline and that a merger or acquisition isn't out of the question: "One of the reasons we tried so hard to avoid going in [to bankruptcy] is because there's not a good track record for it," said Grinstein. He said airlines have gone into bankruptcy, with 20 emerging. Of those, only two remain, both of which have filed for bankruptcy twice -- Continental and America West. And, Grinstein added, in bankruptcy protection, creditors, debtors-in-possession, and the judge also get to participate in decisions.
While Grinstein said he doesn't plan for a merger with another airline -- Delta presented a three-year plan to its lenders that "envisions a stand alone airline" -- he also wouldn't rule it out. They are probably unavoidable," he said. There is also Looking for delta comair buddy that discount carriers will swoop in to pick the bones : Deep financial trouble at Delta and Northwest airlines could open up market opportunities for discount giant Southwest and other aggressive low-cost carriers.
It's too early to know for sure where growth-minded discounters will pick up the slack, but few doubt that they will. Regardless of what happens, the economic impact around the South, and especially Georgia, could be enormous. With approx. Most of them are in the Atlanta metro area.
Delta is expected to announce pay and benefit cuts later this week. Delta's CFO Edward Bastian said there will also be layoff announcements, and that the layoffs "will not be small. Other Delta hub cities may not fare so well. Atlanta-based Delta, the biggest employer in Northern Kentucky, has for months been negotiating concessions from its employees and cutting costs across the board in what the company said was an effort to avoid bankruptcy court. Those cuts, scheduled to take effect Dec. The bankruptcies will likely wipe out the carriers' equity investors and leave unsecured bondholders recovering less than 20 cents on the dollar, analysts said.
Some secured creditors will likely recover most of their investments, but others could lose up to 80 percent, according to analysts. As the airlines try to reduce costs and downsize their fleets, they may simply return many of the aircraft backing its debt to creditors, analysts said. Walt Disney Co. Similar disclosures are expected from other debtholders. Sadly, some of these stockholders are employees who took Delta stock in lieu of pay raises and other Looking for delta comair buddy, and employee unions who invested in the company.
Also at risk are pension benefits owed to overDelta employees: While Delta said it will continue to press Congress for legislation to make its plans more affordable, the Atlanta-based airline said, "There can be no guarantees -- even with pension reform -- about the future of Delta's qualified defined benefit plans," because of its growing financial pressures. Two Senate committees have passed broad pension reform legislation that includes provisions that would allow commercial airlines, like Delta, to stretch out pension plan payments over 14 years, a much slower amortization schedule than what other companies would face.
Despite assurances in a memo to all employees, Delta says there are no guarantees: "Understandably, in view of our circumstances, people also are concerned about their pensions.
Delta has been doing everything it can, within the bounds of what it can afford, to continue to provide its active and retired Delta people with already earned qualified retirement plan benefits. Given our financial situation and the need to preserve as much cash as possible for our operations, we do not plan to make the qualified defined benefit pension funding contributions soon due. Neither filing for Chapter 11 nor missing contributions means that our qualified plans stop paying monthly retirement benefits or that we have initiated the process to terminate the plans.
Nor does either action mean we have stopped pursuing pension reform legislation that might make the pension plans more affordable. But to be clear, there can be no guarantees - even with pension reform - because of growing financial pressures. Low-cost carriers do not provide defined benefit plans, and network carriers restructuring through the bankruptcy process have transferred their defined benefit pension plans to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Ultimately, what we can afford in the future airline business environment, as well as the nature of any legislation, will determine what is possible. What does this mean for Delta's employees? The company's pension plans cover aboutpeople, including about 28, who are retired. The airline says its basic pension plans remain in place. But on the first day of bankruptcy hearings, Delta indicated that it expects to halt supplemental pension payments to higher-paid retirees, including pilots and executives.
And there is speculation that the company could move to terminate its basic pension plans too, just as United Airlines did in its ongoing bankruptcy case. Such a move would shift responsibility for pension payments to a federal agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. But that agency says it doesn't have enough assets to cover the future pension liabilities that companies already have dumped in its lap.
If Delta drops retirees' pension plans, the people hurt most would include young retirees in their early-to-mids, Looking for delta comair buddy will get the smallest payouts from the PBGC, Cone said. She said the sting would be especially sharp for former pilots and senior executives who led Delta before Mullin's tenure. But pensions aren't the only thing Delta retirees are worrying about.
Many accepted early-retirement packages that promised premium-free medical insurance until age Now, some doubt that benefit will survive. Retirees expect health insurance premiums to rocket, something workers from other companies also face.
But Cone worries about the possibility of Delta's dropping its health plan for retirees altogether, potentially leaving few insurance choices for those who have serious pre-existing health conditions. Employees of the two airlines would lose the rest of the shortfall. Contrary to widely held misconception, takeover by the PBGC does not equate to a "taxpayer bailout.
The PBGC is a quasi-private administered by the government pension insurance program funded through premiums paid by companies with pensions. Premiums and benefits are based on the level of pension funding or underfundingquality of investments, and so forth. There is currently no taxpayer funding, and Congress says it is "not an option. It also highlights a growing concern about underfunded pensions and the PBGC. Similar to recent natural disasters, the problem was not unforeseen. In fact, back in a Congressional committee called it a "perfect storm" : Many factors have contributed to the decline of the defined benefit pension system.
Struggling stock markets, severely low interest rates, and an increasing of retirees have produced a 'perfect storm' scenario that has weakened the funding status of these plans and resulted in decisions by many employers to terminate or freeze a large of plans. Moreover, a complex statutory and regulatory structure for defined benefit plans has resulted in an increasingly expensive and complicated system to administer that provides little flexibility for employers who voluntarily offer these pension plans.
These factors, however, mask Looking for delta comair buddy trends that pose serious risks to the defined benefit system and the PBGC's ability to insure pension benefits for firms concentrated in manufacturing industries. For example, the program's insured participant base continues to shift away from active workers, falling from 78 percent of all participants in to 53 percent inLooking for delta comair buddy
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