Moody's upgrades Delta as debt shrinks

Moody's upgrades Delta Air Lines, citing shrinking debt and tie-up with Virgin Atlantic

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Moody's Investors Service raised the credit rating of Delta Air Lines Inc. one notch on Thursday, as the company pays down debt and remains profitable.

Moody's upgraded Delta's overall rating to "B1" from "B2," which is still in non-investment grade of "junk" territory, and raised several other debt ratings, too.

Moody's noted that Delta is on track to reach a net debt target of $10 billion. Delta said recently that it is now aiming to get down to $7 billion.

Moody's also said Delta will benefit from its new 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, which will allow it to sell seats on Virgin Atlantic and will give Delta more traffic between New York and London. Moody's noted that Delta has wrapped up its acquisition of Northwest Airlines, whereas other larger competitors are still working through their mergers. United and Continental merged in 2010 but are still integrating, and American and US Airways Group Inc. are aiming to merge this year.

Delta shares rose 28 cents to close at $18.69.

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