Delta Air Lines CEO: Carriers must reduce debt and lower costs further


Delta Air Lines Inc. chief executive Richard Anderson said his industry is moving into an “up cycle” and that carriers must reduce debt and lower costs further to weather future slumps.

The recession was a “terrible cycle that has wreaked havoc on balance sheets and stocks,” Anderson said Wednesday at the Atlantabased company’s annual meeting in New York. “We are now moving into an up cycle.”

Delta, the world’s largest carrier after buying Northwest Airlines in 2008, may swing to a profit this year after two straight years of losses during the recession. Delta and other carriers are taking advantage of increasing travel demand by raising fares and keeping planes packed.

Delta has a goal of paying off $7 billion in debt by the end of 2012 to bring its net debt level to $10 billion from $17 billion at the end of last year. Anderson said debt reduction is important for airlines to manage any future softening in demand.