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The US Big 3 airlines work to slash pensions while maintaining responsible balance sheet management

The three large US global network airlines – American, Delta and United – continue to tout the strength of their balance sheets; the results which they’ve achieved during the past few years by the use of various tools, including free cash flow generation and debt reduction.

Delta is using its newly minted investment grade status to tap markets for creative ways to fund its hefty pension obligations during the next two to three years. American is also working to ensure pension compensation coverage by lifting its liquidity targets as rules allowing favourable minimum funding contributions expire in 2017.

Each of those airlines is bracing for fairly substantial capital expenditures during 2017, largely driven by aircraft acquisitions, but American, Delta and United have no plans to compromise their balance sheet progress irrationally in order to support fleet revamps.

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