Delta Air Lines plans to shift several Twin Cities operations -- including flight attendants and pilot training -- to Atlanta.
Overall, the airline says a "few hundred" jobs will be heading south.
Delta made the announcement late Tuesday afternoon. In a letter to employees, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said the moves are part of an effort to make the most efficient use of airline assets and to maintain consistent profits despite high fuel prices.
Anderson said Delta's Twin Cities flight attendant and pilot training centers and flight simulator facilities will go to Atlanta. And he said engineering and technical support teams will also be relocated to Georgia.
Delta had promised to keep at least some of those jobs in the Twin Cities, as long as the airline had an outstanding loan from the Metropolitan Airports Commission. Delta inherited the loan from Northwest Airlines when it acquired the Minnesota carrier a few years ago.
But commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said Delta plans to pay off that some $200 million loan. And Hogan says that will free Delta from promises it made to keep certain jobs in Minnesota and maintain a workforce of at least 10,000 people in the state.
"Once Delta pays off its remaining debt to the Airports Commission, then it would no longer have any kind of employment obligation to us," he said.
But Hogan said the airline is still bound by a promise to keep the Twin Cities as a major hub airport.
"They would still have the requirement they have 360 flights at least per day going from MSP," he said.
Actually, Delta is greatly exceeding that promise, averaging about 480 flights a day. To keep up its flight schedule, Hogan says Delta needs thousands of people.
"Certainly there are lots of other jobs that are going to be remaining here," he said. "And as long as they have a major hub here and there's no indication that's going away, we expect there will continue to be a lot of jobs here in Minnesota."
In his letter to employees, Anderson said Delta is firmly committed to Minnesota. He said Delta and its subsidiaries will still have more than 12,000 employees living and working in the state. He said cargo, maintenance, repair and overhaul work will continue in the Twin Cities as it does today.
Delta indicated jobs would be available in Atlanta for all of the few hundred employees affected. The airline would not be more specific about the the number of jobs that will leave Minnesota.
Delta expects the job shifts will begin this year and continue through 2012.