Delta considers Comair sale; evaluates consolidation

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SkyTeam member Delta Air Lines will shortly decide on whether to sell its wholly-owned regional subsidiary Comair.

“You should expect us in the course of the next quarter or two to make a judgement in that regard,” revealed newly-appointed CEO Richard Anderson this morning during an earnings conference call to discuss the company’s third quarter net profit of $220 million.

Out of Delta’s nine regional feeders, Comair is the only carrier owned by the US major. Anderson says Delta is considering if its balance sheet should continue to carry “that set of assets”.

Additionally, Delta is evaluating possible opportunities to participate in industry consolidation. “This industry, including Delta and candidly all of the major network carriers, are products of consolidation, and we fully expect this evolution toward a more consolidated industry will continue,” says Anderson.

He adds that consolidation “could make sense for Delta, if done profitably”.

Delta is “evaluating the best path forward” for the company, he says, noting that there are “obvious benefits that accrue from consolidation for shareholders and employees”.

As such, the company is taking a “balanced view towards consolidation and its impact on Delta” while keeping focused on any execution risk and doing its best to create shareholder value, says Anderson.

Delta and its SkyTeam partner Air France are expected to formalise their planned transatlantic joint-venture agreement tomorrow. Tomorrow’s announcement will provide “tremendous benefits” to Delta shareholders, says Anderson.

In response to an analyst’s question, he assured: “Any announcement coming out of Paris will not be to the detriment of bondholders.”