Delta Reports Big Loss in 1st Weeks of Case

Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's third-largest carrier, said it lost a whopping $1.14 billion in the first six weeks of its bankruptcy case.

The Atlanta-based airline revealed the loss that amounted to $6.04 a share for the Sept. 15 to Oct. 31 period in a filing Wednesday night in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Delta filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 14.

Delta had already reported a third-quarter net loss of $1.13 billion for the three months ending Sept. 30. It's not clear from Wednesday's filing how much of the new loss occurred during October and how much came during the last half of September. A spokeswoman was not immediately able to break it down Thursday.

Excluding reorganization items, Delta said its loss for the first six weeks of its bankruptcy case was $472 million.

The airline also said in its filing that it spent $2.61 billion in the first six weeks of its bankruptcy case, much of it on fuel, salaries and interest expense. It said it spent $17 million on professional fees associated with its bankruptcy case during the period. The company reported revenue of $1.95 billion for the six-week period.

Delta's net loss for the first six weeks of its bankruptcy case was more than triple that of the $346 million that Northwest Airlines Corp. said it lost during the same period. Northwest, based in Eagan, Minn., also filed for bankruptcy in New York on Sept. 14.

Meanwhile, Delta's effort to reject its pilot contract so it can impose $325 million in concessions on its 6,000 pilots continued in bankruptcy court Wednesday.

On the fifth day of hearings, Judge Prudence Carter Beatty hinted at how she may arrive at a decision on this hotly contested aspect of the airline's bankruptcy case.

Amid testimony Wednesday by a Wall Street financier who advocated a plan seeking wage cuts from pilots, Beatty said that given the complexities of the carrier's business, she wanted to examine the facts in context.

"I really think the facts can be misrepresented unless you know more about the context," Beatty told the court. "I actually think in a case like this, the facts are much more important than the law."

Delta is looking for $3 billion in annual cost savings overall.

Delta wants $325 million in concessions from the pilots, saying it needs to cut labor costs to make itself competitive with other carriers who operate at a lower cost.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union representing the pilots, has offered $90.7 million in average annual concessions over four years and has threatened a strike if the court grants Delta's request. Delta maintains such a walkout would violate the Railway Labor Act.

If the court approves Delta's proposed cuts, they would be on top of $1 billion in annual concessions the pilots agreed to in a five-year deal reached in 2004. That deal included a 32.5 percent pay cut and has been held up by the union as a sign of their willingness to negotiate.

Delta has for five days presented testimony from an industry specialist, its own chief financial officer and a Wall Street investment banker arguing why it needs to break the collective bargaining agreement to survive.

The airline pilots have yet to present testimony supporting their argument before the court, which suggest the hearings likely will go on into next week.


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