Union Chief: US Air Is Only Delta Bidder

No other carrier has offered to buy Delta Air Lines Inc. since US Airways' hostile bid last month, and no merger discussions between Delta and any other carrier are currently ongoing, the head of Delta's pilots union said Wednesday.

"In the normal course of business all these executives talk back and forth, but I can tell you definitively as far as I know there's no talks going on between Delta and any other airline for a merger," Lee Moak, chairman of the union's executive committee, told The Associated Press.

The pilots union is a large creditor in Delta's bankruptcy case and is a member of the unsecured creditors committee, a key player in determining whether any merger would go forward.

Moak's comments came as Delta's pilots planned a rally later Wednesday near Atlanta to protest US Airways Group Inc.'s $8.7 billion bid, which was disclosed Nov. 15. Delta management also has opposed a merger. Delta's creditors committee was to meet Wednesday in New York to discuss the airline's proposal to remain a standalone carrier, Moak said.

Delta is expected to file its reorganization plan with the court later this month.

In October, Delta Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein said the Atlanta-based company had received "feelers" about 18 months earlier from UAL Corp.'s United Airlines about a possible merger, but that he rejected their overtures as he did later with US Airways. The company has not hinted that there's been any formal discussions between United and Delta since that time.

"There's not been any United Airlines bid or discussion for a Delta merger," Moak said Wednesday. "The Delta executives have been working well with us. They are focused, as are we, at emerging as a standalone carrier."

On Tuesday, lawyers for the creditors committee said in a bankruptcy court filing that there is no guarantee that US Airways' unsolicited buyout offer of Delta will ever be consummated, but it surely will fall through if the pilots' pension plan at Delta is not terminated.

The committee said in court papers that its consideration of the deal is still in the early stages, but that US Airways has made clear it would walk away without the pilots' pension being dumped.

"While US Airways' offer is only in the preliminary stages of discussion and it is uncertain whether a merger agreement will ever be reached, one thing is certain: the merger between Delta and US Airways will not proceed if the pilot plan is not terminated," the committee's lawyers wrote.

The remarks were made in a filing in which the committee asked the bankruptcy court to deny a request by some retired Delta pilots to stay the court's earlier approval of the pension termination pending further appeal. A federal district judge Monday upheld the bankruptcy court's approval.


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Delta Air Lines Inc.: http://www.delta.com

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