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News & Policy

PBGC Becomes Trustee of Delta Pilots Pension Plan

January 05, 2007

WASHINGTON-The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced that it has become trustee of the Delta Air Lines Inc. Pilots Retirement Plan, taking over the responsibility for paying pension benefits to more than 13,000 active and retired pilots. The action has no effect on the separate Delta Air Lines Inc. Retirement Plan, which the airline is continuing to sponsor for other employees.

The pension plan for pilots is underfunded by about $3 billion, with $1.7 billion in assets to cover more than $4.7 billion in benefit liabilities. Of the $3 billion in underfunding, the PBGC estimates that it will be liable for almost $920 million, making the Delta pilots plan the sixth-largest claim in the agency's 32-year history. The plan ended as of September 2, 2006 and the PBGC became trustee on December 31, 2006.

Under federal pension law, the maximum guaranteed pension at age 65 for participants in plans that terminate in 2006 is $47,659.08 a year. At age 60, the maximum is $30,978.36. If the plan has sufficient assets, however, participants who are already retired or near retirement can receive more than the guaranteed amounts under the asset-allocation rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

Within the next several weeks, the PBGC will send trusteeship notification letters to all active and retired Delta Air Lines pilots. After the transfer of plan documents, the agency will review individual records and calculate each person's benefit according to plan provisions, asset allocation rules, and federal guarantee limits. Workers and retirees with questions may contact PBGC's Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7242. For TTY/TDD users, call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask for 800-400-7242. General information about PBGC's pension insurance program is available at

The PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It currently guarantees payment of basic pension benefits earned by 44 million American workers and retirees participating in more than 30,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The PBGC receives no general tax revenue and is not backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and by investment returns.

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PBGC No. 07-09