Delta Bankruptcy Hearing Set for February

Lawyers for Delta Air Lines, the nation's third-largest carrier, said Wednesday they have scheduled a Feb. 7 hearing in bankruptcy court to consider approval of the disclosure statement to the carrier's reorganization plan.

The disclosure statement includes details on Atlanta-based Delta's operations. If the statement is approved, that means Delta can begin soliciting votes on the reorganization plan, which typically takes four to eight weeks, Delta spokesman Michael Freitag said.

Delta is seeking to establish Feb. 1 as the date by which persons who want to vote on the reorganization plan must be creditors of the airline.

Delta faces a hostile $8.5 billion bid by Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. to buy Delta in a deal that would create the nation's largest carrier. Delta's reorganization plan calls for Delta to emerge from Chapter 11 by the middle of next year as a stand-alone carrier.

US Airways is hoping Delta's creditors force Delta's hand in its direction.

Meanwhile, attorneys general in several states have been informally discussing the impact a US Airways buyout of Delta would have on airline competition in their states.

JoAnn Carrin, a spokeswoman for the Florida attorney general's office, said her office is working with other states on such a review, which she described as routine. She did not name the other states or say how many there were.

It's unclear what authority the states would have since airline mergers are generally reviewed by federal regulators. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, whose state is also reviewing the merger proposal, said the states can't block the merger, but could file suit if it's determined the merger would harm competition.

"It smells of a redundant merger that could be anticompetitive, but we won't know until we finish the investigation," Shurtleff said.

US Airways spokesman Phil Gee said Wednesday he was told there could be as many as 11 states that have discussed the issue.

Spokesmen for several attorneys general in other states that could be affected by a US Airways buyout of Delta did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.