Delta Air Lines Inc., Atlanta, contributed a total of $220 million to its pension plans in the first quarter, according to a Form 8-K filed today with the SEC. Company officials also reiterated their earlier estimate of about $450 million in total pension obligations for 2005. The airline's pension plans had combined assets of about $6.8 billion as of Sept. 30, according to the carrier's annual report. The plans were underfunded by about $5.3 billion at the same date. The annual report said Delta had $4.2 billion in defined contribution assets as of Sept. 30.
Delta officials currently estimate pension funding obligations for 2006, 2007 and 2008 of about $600 million, $950 million and $1.6 billion, respectively, according to the filing. The 8-K noted, however, that the estimates could be "substantially lower" if the Employee Pension Preservation Act of 2005 "is enacted as proposed." The bill would allow airlines to extend to 25 years the time to make payments of any unfunded liability under their qualified defined benefit plans.