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Delta expects to emerge from bankruptcy April 30

ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines Inc. expects to emerge from bankruptcy April 30 with an eye on returning to profitability, improving customer service and selling more assets to build shareholder value, it said Tuesday, raising the possibility it could shed feeder carrier Comair.

While the nation's third-biggest airline did not say in documents prepared for an investor conference what assets it plans to sell, Chief Financial Officer Ed Bastian suggested that Delta subsidiary Comair Inc. could be a target.

''We will, once we're out of bankruptcy, look at whether owning that business makes a lot of sense,'' Bastian said at the investor conference.

During a teleconference later with reporters, Bastian elaborated that Atlanta-based Delta's effort to maximize returns for shareholders may mean ''spinning off certain assets, such as Comair.''

Erlanger, Ky.-based Comair is a regional carrier that provides connecting service for Delta.

The investor documents, which Delta filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, suggested Delta slightly moved up the date of its planned emergence from Chapter 11. It had said in a statement March 20 it expected to emerge from bankruptcy in early May. Bastian said early May is when Delta's new stock is expected to be listed on an exchange. Delta sought bankruptcy protection from creditors in September 2005.

Delta is expected to announce later this week who will serve on its post-bankruptcy board of directors. The board will pick a new chief executive officer to replace Gerald Grinstein, who has said he plans to step down sometime after Delta exits Chapter 11.

Grinstein told investors at the conference that he hopes the new 11-member board is announced by Friday. He said the official committee of unsecured creditors in Delta's bankruptcy case will choose the board. At least three of its members will be current board members. Grinstein said he would stay on the board until his successor as CEO is named.