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Delta on board for $1.2 billion contribution

Delta Air Lines Inc., Atlanta, plans to contribute at least $1.2 billion to its defined benefit plans in 2017, the company announced in its 10-K filing on Monday.

The amount is $700 million above the minimum funding requirements, the filing said. Delta contributed $1.32 billion to the plans in 2016, $1.2 billion in 2015 and $917 million in 2014.

The airline had announced in May 2014 its intention to contribute at least $1 billion per year to the plans to reach an 80% funding ratio by 2020.

In 2016, Delta's funding ratio did improve slightly, to 49.4% from 45.5% the previous year, according to the filing. As of Dec. 31, plan assets totaled $10.3 billion, and projected benefit obligations totaled $20.8 billion.

Previous year's assets were $9.374 billion, with the increase attributable primarily to the company contribution and an investment gain of $687 million, offset by $1.07 billion in benefits paid and $9 million in settlements.

Liabilities in 2016 increased from $20.611 billion primarily due to the drop in the discount rate to 4.2% in 2016 from 4.57% the previous year.

The plan's target allocation is 40% to 50% growth-seeking assets, which includes equities; 25% to 30% risk-diversifying assets, which includes alternatives; and 20% to 30% income-generating assets, which includes fixed income. An actual allocation was not provided.

A Delta spokeswoman was not immediately available to provide further information.