Delta Air Lines' decision to pay off a nearly $200 million loan from the Metropolitan Airports Commission frees the airline from a commitment to keep at least 10,000 employees in the state.
That possibility worries Gov. Mark Dayton, who plans to meet with next month with Delta CEO Richard Anderson to discuss the carrier's Minnesota workforce.
The airline currently employs about 12,000 Minnesotans and says its workforce here should remain stable. Delta staffing and service levels exceed the loan-related commitment, about 2,000 more than stipulated by the loan agreement.
"They're under severe financial pressures to reduce their overall cost of operation, with a weak market and higher fuel costs," Dayton said. "I don't have any inside information. But if you put two plus two, I mean that would be a concern."
The airline currently has about 12,000 employees in Minnesota, The airline also is averaging more than 400 daily departures from the Twin Cities airport. Delta says the bond payoff does NOT change the airport lease obligation to average about 400 flights a day, a level the airline says should keep employment stable here.
Delta also has a lease agreement requiring it to provide a minimum level of air service for the Twin Cities through 2020.
"Delta is required to maintain at least 360 departures per day on average out of Minneapolis-St. Paul," said Tom Anderson general counsel for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
Delta has exceeded that flight goal, averaging 480 daily departures from the Twin Cities.