Barring Last-Minute Holdups, Carrier Will Become Solvent April
It's been a arduous journey down a extremely bumpy road... but
Delta Air Lines expects the path to become much clearer, very soon.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta, GA-based carrier set a date for its
planned exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Associated Press reports Delta plans to emerge from fiscal
insolvency April 30, according to amended documents filed this week
with the Securities and Exchanges Commission. That date is slightly
earlier than the mid-May timeframe Delta originally suggested.
In order to meet that timeframe, Delta's reorganization plan
will have to be approved by the airline's creditors, in
anticipation of an April 25 hearing before the US Bankruptcy Court
on the proposal. Delta Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian told the
AP the airline is aware of no "show stoppers" that could throw a
wrench in that plan.
Bastian is a leading internal candidate to become Delta's next
CEO, when Gerald Grinstein steps down following Delta's exit from
Chapter 11. Another candidate for the top spot is the airline's
Chief Operating Officer, James Whitehurst; other candidates from
outside the carrier have been rumored, as well.
Delta is expected to name the members of its post-bankruptcy
board of directors by the end of this week. That 11-member board --
which will include at least three current board members -- will be
tasked with naming Grinstein's successor.
"My persuasive powers
will be brought to bear to see if we can make an internal selection
and do it quickly," Grinstein (right) said. "At that point, my role
Upon emergence from bankruptcy, Delta will focus on returning to
profitability, improving customer service, and selling off assets.
Bastian suggested struggling regional subsidiary Comair could be a
"We will, once we're out of bankruptcy, look at whether owning
that business makes a lot of sense," Bastian said. Comair has
struggled with many of the same bankruptcy-related financial and
labor-related woes as its larger parent; the airline was also hit
with a fatal accident last August.
When asked about the chances of Delta merging with another
airline, Grinstein replied he doesn't believe the time is right for
major airlines to merge operations.
"I do think that is going to be deferred for several years,
three or four years," said Grinstein. "Do I think six network
carriers are too many? No, I don't."
As Aero-News reported, Delta
was the target of a hostile takeover attempt by US Airways Group
late last year. USAG abandoned the bid in January, after
encountering steady resistance from Delta executives, employees,
Grinstein did opine if another merger comes along, Delta's role
will be quite different than before. "Frankly, I see its future
more as an acquirer rather than being acquired."