Delta Air Lines Funds Pension Plan
Delta Air Lines has
announced that it has made a $321 million contribution to the Delta
Retirement Plan. This contribution, combined with smaller
contributions made earlier this year, brings Delta's total 2004
contributions to $325 million.
Delta's contributions to the Delta Retirement Plan for 2004
exceed the minimum required contribution for the calendar year. The
company does not anticipate making any additional contributions to
that plan during the remainder of 2004, but plans to contribute
approximately $115 million to the Delta Pilots Retirement Plan,
bringing total pension plan contributions to approximately $440
million for the year.
Delta said it will
continue to monitor factors affecting the financial position of its
pension plans and will make adjustments to funding strategy if and
when it is warranted. In addition, Delta reaffirmed its strong
support for legislation before Congress to provide temporary
pension funding relief for airlines and other plan sponsors.
Delta has voluntarily prefunded the Delta Retirement Plan for
the second consecutive year. Delta said that it chose to again
prefund its plan in order to provide greater assets for payment of
participant benefits and investment return, thus potentially
providing an added level of security to the benefits already earned
by plan participants. In March 2003, Delta prefunded the Delta
Retirement Plan with a contribution of $76 million, in excess of
the plan's minimum funding requirement for calendar year 2003.
"Delta's decision to voluntarily prefund the Delta Retirement
Plan this year, as we did last year, also provides the company with
more level plan contribution requirements in the near term," said
M. Michele Burns, Delta's executive vice president and chief
financial officer. "Delta remains committed to effectively managing
all aspects of our pension plans as it also takes steps to manage
its balance sheet and cash flows effectively."
"Delta's decision to
prefund the Delta Retirement Plan does not, however, lessen the
need for Congress to promptly enact needed pension funding and
interest rate relief as contained in pending legislation," said
Delta plans to meet minimum funding requirements in 2004 for the
Delta Pilots Retirement Plan, which is determined separately from
the Delta Retirement Plan. The planned 2004 contribution to the
Delta Pilots Retirement Plan is approximately $115 million. Both
the Delta Pilots Retirement Plan and the Delta Retirement Plan are
funded to at least 80 percent for ERISA current liability purposes
as of July 1, 2003, the most recent ERISA funding measurement date.
The funded status for ERISA purposes compares the obligation of
benefits already earned to the assets of the plans.