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Delta CFO: Standalone plan superior to bid

Associated Press

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines Inc. is actively telling its creditors that it believes its standalone plan is "far superior" to US Airways’

$8.7 billion offer to buy the company and create the nation’s largest carrier, Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian said Friday.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Bastian said he and Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein are telling creditors the company will review US Airways’ bid disclosed Wednesday, but don’t believe it’s the right plan for Delta.

Bastian also said the Atlanta-based airline will "fight to make certain" that the airline emerges from Chapter 11 in the first half of next year as a strong competitor and it believes its standalone plan will be the "winning proposal."

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Bastian said Friday that Delta plans to file its reorganization plan in mid-December, two months earlier than the Feb. 15 deadline. He said that was always Delta’s plan and it hasn’t moved up the date in light of US Airways’ bid.

Bastian declined to say if Delta was considering any legal options to protect its interests.

Meanwhile, US Airways on Friday was still trying to set up a meeting with the official committee of unsecured creditors in Delta’s bankruptcy case to pitch the offer to members, US Airways spokesman Phil Gee said.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline hopes to set up a meeting as early as next week, Gee said, adding that no discussions have occurred between the two sides since the offer was made public.

Bastian said Delta is trying to answer its employees’ and customers’ questions in light of the developments.

Also Friday, US Airways said its proposed buyout of Delta won’t hurt competition and shouldn’t trigger a regulatory challenge.

The airline said in a presentation it made to analysts and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the industry is far more competitive than at the beginning of the decade and new low-cost carriers like JetBlue Airways Corp. and AirTran Holdings Inc. have joined Southwest Airlines Co. as competitors.

The airline said even if it succeeds in its buyout of Delta it will control just 18.2 percent of the domestic market after it trims its fleet as part of the merger.

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