Moody's validates Delta's performance with investment grade rating

ATLANTA, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Moody’s Investors Service validated the performance of Delta Air Lines’ (NYSE: DAL) 80,000 employees worldwide and the company’s disciplined financial strategy when it upgraded Delta’s debt rating to Baa3, an investment grade level.

Delta is the first global U.S. airline to have its rating restored to an investment-grade level by a major ratings firm.

“This is a major achievement for Delta’s 80,000 employees worldwide and is a direct result of their hard work,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. “Our employee focused culture is driving superior cash returns that have allowed us to pay down debt, invest in the business and return cash to shareholders in a balanced approach.”

Since 2009, Delta has reduced its debt by more than $10 billion and implemented a highly disciplined strategy around capital deployment, improving operating margins and harnessing the innovation of its people.

“We believe that Delta will continue to effectively manage its network and operations, and build on the capital-efficient growth strategy to sustain a competitive operating margin with free cash flow that leads the industry and compares favorably to other companies rated investment grade,” said Moody’s Senior Credit Officer, Jonathan Root, in a press release.

Root cited Delta’s ongoing debt reduction, its targeted return on invested capital, the use of free cash flow to repurchase shares, and the contribution of $1 billion annually to its pension plans.