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NEW YORKA federal bankruptcy court judge last week approved Delta Air Lines Inc.'s request to terminate a severely underfunded pension plan covering about 13,000 former and current Delta pilots.
The termination, which the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. did not oppose, will mean another big loss for the agency. The PBGC estimates that the plan has about $1.7 billion in assets and about $4.7 billion in liabilities, of which the PBGC would guarantee $913 million.
Atlanta-based Delta said it intends to keep a much larger plan that covers about 91,000 other employees and retirees. Delta successfully lobbied Congress to include a provision in the recently passed pension funding reform legislation that gives the airline more time to fund that plan.
Delta said that extension, which is available to commercial airlines that freeze their pension plans, was essential to keep the bigger plan. However, even with the extension, Delta said it could not afford to maintain the pilots' pension plan.