Delta Moving a “Few Hundred” Jobs Out of MN

Delta CEO Richard Anderson wrote a letter to employees indicating that despite moving Minnesota jobs to Atlanta, the airline is still committed to its hub at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Delta Air Lines, Inc., announced Tuesday that it will relocate a “few hundred” jobs from the Twin Cities to its headquarters in Atlanta as part of a consolidation process that will save money.

The company said that the consolidation process will begin this year and continue through 2012. Jobs are available to employees who want to relocate.

Before Delta can move the jobs-which include flight attendant facilitators, pilot instructors, simulator support employees, engineers, and technical support employees-the company will have to pay off the remaining balance on a loan from the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).

Delta inherited the loan when it bought Northwest Airlines in 2008. Under the loan agreement, Delta was required to maintain 10,000 jobs in Minnesota and keep specific functions in Minnesota-including the flight simulator training facility in Eagan, which Delta plans to move to Atlanta.

MAC spokesman Partick Hogan told Twin Cities Business that once Delta repays the remaining $170 million on the loan, the company will no longer have specific employment obligations in the Twin Cities.

However, Hogan said that the airline will still need to keep jobs in Minnesota through an air-service agreement with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), under which it must maintain at least 360 departures per day.

In a letter to employees, which was sent Tuesday, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said that the company intends to repay the MAC loan, which will reduce Delta's debt and allow it to make investments elsewhere.

Anderson also said that Delta is committed to its hub at MSP, adding that it will keep more than 12,000 Delta and subsidiary employees in Minnesota and more than 480 average daily departures from MSP.

“Most of [Delta's] jobs are tied to the operation of their hub here and the flights here,” Hogan said. “Every indication is that Delta remains committed to having a large hub at MSP.”

Several local leaders-including Governor Mark Dayton-reportedly expressed disappointment in Delta's decision to phase some jobs out of Minnesota, with some saying the company is breaking a promise that it made when it acquired Northwest.

“Delta made a commitment to keep many of these jobs in Minnesota,” U.S. Representative John Kline told the Star Tribune. “I am extremely disappointed Delta is now backing away from that promise by moving jobs out of Minnesota.”

In response to the criticism, Delta issued a statement saying that rising fuel prices and cost pressures require the most efficient use of the company's assets and investments.

“Delta's merger with Northwest resulted in a stronger company and greater long-term job protection than either carrier could have provided as single airlines,” Delta said in an e-mailed statement. “We've kept our commitment to no frontline involuntary furloughs as a result of the merger and have jobs available for every employee who is willing to relocate as part of the facility consolidation.”

Last month, Delta-which is among the state's largest employers-announced that it was offering retirement and buyout options to about 55,000 employees and reducing flight capacity by 4 percent in an effort to save money after posting a $318 million loss in the first quarter.