Delta's Pinnacle deal a 'revolutionary step': Anderson

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Delta Air Lines' acquisition of Pinnacle Airlines out of chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is a "revolutionary step", says chief executive Richard Anderson.

"We actually for the first time have the right cost structure in place and the right fleet in place to be able to operate the most efficient 70 76-seat operator in the industry," he says during an earnings call today. "And the way the pilot agreement is setup, we don't end up with the seniority issues that have cost issues in that industry in the past."

Anderson adds: "We're pleased with the opportunity and believe that it's going to drive a very significant advantage to Delta over the long run."

Delta shut down its regional subsidiary Comair in September 2012 due to an uncompetitive cost structure, while its previous wholly-owned regional subsidiaries - including Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) and Mesaba Airlines - were sold to other carriers including Pinnacle in the case of Mesaba.

Memphis-based Pinnacle announced that it would emerge from bankruptcy as a subsidiary of Delta with earlier this month. It will ultimately operate a fleet of all Bombardier CRJ900s, including the ones that its future parent ordered this past December.

The airline has until 15 February to file its final restructuring plan with the bankruptcy court, which then has until 15 May to issue a ruling.