Delta Airlines Asks For Another Delay to File Reorganization Plan

ATLANTA_Delta Air Lines Inc., the third-largest U.S. carrier, asked a bankruptcy court judge Wednesday for a four-month delay to exclusively file its reorganization plan.

The Atlanta-based airline has already received a six-month extension, and had been scheduled to propose the plan by July 11. An exclusivity period allows a company in bankruptcy protection to file its own plan of reorganization, before creditors can weigh in.

It wasn't immediately clear how the new delay request might affect Delta's goal to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first half of next year. A Delta spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

"The debtors seek these extensions to avoid the necessity of having to formulate a plan of reorganization prematurely and to ensure that their plan of reorganization best addresses the interests of the debtors, their employees, creditors and estates," Delta said in its latest request.

Delta said that, among other things, it wants more time to address its pension plan obligations. The airline's chief executive has said Delta plans to seek termination of its pilots' defined benefit pension plan.

Delta also wants more time to address retiree health and related benefit obligations, continue to refine its business model and further implement restructuring initiatives. The company has pared employee costs, including achieving a $280-million-dollar-a-year concessions deal with its pilots.

The extension, if approved, would mean Delta would have until Nov. 8 to exclusively file a plan of reorganization and until Jan. 8, 2007 to solicit acceptances of the plan.

The airline, which has lost more than $14 billion (€11.1 billion) in the last five years, filed for bankruptcy protection in September.