Delta Seeks Time to Plan Its Recovery

Delta Air Lines Inc., the third-biggest U.S. carrier, saying it's in the "earliest stages" of negotiations on a plan to exit bankruptcy and repay creditors, asked a judge to continue blocking others from filing competing proposals to resolve the case.

Stakeholders are currently barred from filing their own reorganization plans through Nov. 8. Atlanta-based Delta on Friday asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Adlai Hardin of New York to extend that so-called exclusivity period through Feb. 15.

Negotiations "are at their earliest stages," Delta lawyer Marshall Huebner said in court papers. "An extension is required to enable the debtors to complete work currently under way on a variety of issues, including labor, pension, aircraft fleet, claims reconciliation and exit structuring."

Blocking creditors, shareholders and others from proposing reorganization plans would allow Delta to avoid court battles over competing accords, Huebner said. Delta, which operates a hub at Salt Lake City International Airport, has targeted its exit from bankruptcy for the first half of 2007.

The reorganization plan, once filed, must be put up for a creditor vote and then must be approved by a bankruptcy judge before it can become effective.

Delta's committee of unsecured creditors supports the request, the airline's lawyer said in Friday's filing. Hardin is scheduled to consider the extension at a Nov. 8 hearing.

Delta filed the 10th-biggest U.S. bankruptcy by asset size in September 2005, citing rising fuel costs and declining revenue. The company has since sought to cut the pay and benefits of current and former workers and has restructured contracts to keep costs down.

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