US Airways is hopeful it can begin investigating Delta Air Lines’ books, after yesterday pitching its merger proposal in New York to the bankrupt major’s creditors committee.

The carrier is waiting for the creditors committee to decide when or if it can commence due diligence, which will be conducted by Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom if permitted.

On 15 November, US Airways made an offer of $8 billion, split equally in cash and stock, to merge with Delta and operate under the Atlanta carrier’s banner.

On Thursday, US Airways formally presented its plan to representatives of the Delta creditors committee as well as members of Delta’s management team. It is not clear if subsequent meetings are planned.

“We were pleased to have made a presentation to both Delta and its creditors about what we believe are the compelling and unique benefits of our plan,” says US Airways chairman and chief executive Doug Parker in a statement.

“We reviewed our offer and had a chance to engage in discussions on the many facets of this proposal. While we recognize the steps that Delta management has taken, we are confident that our proposal for a ‘New’ Delta will create more value than a standalone plan.”

Delta in a separate statement says management and the committee representatives listened to US Airways’ presentation “consistent with our obligation to review US Airways’ unsolicited proposal”.

But the carrier continues to reiterate plans for remaining a standalone company.

“While we will fulfill this obligation, we will, as we have stated, continue to progress toward filing our standalone plan by the end of the year, which would have us emerge from bankruptcy as a highly competitive, independent and financially sound airline by mid-2007,” says Delta.

“Our plan is working and we have tremendous, hard-won confidence in it.”