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Moody's changes Delta Air Lines outlook to positive, affirms ratings

Moody's changed its ratings outlook on Delta Air Lines Inc. to positive from stable, saying it expects the company will sustain operational reliability, competitive margins and free cash flow in the near term.

The rating agency said it remains bullish on Delta's performance prospects for 2020, adding that steady cash generation and sustaining margins and debt-related credit metrics near current levels would support a ratings upgrade. This is despite potential pressure on the industry from geopolitical or global macroeconomic developments, Moody's said.

Moody's expects Delta's funded debt levels to remain largely stable, with the airline planning to invest in fleet and airport facilities as well as share repurchases in the next few years.

Moody's affirmed Delta's Baa3 senior unsecured rating, citing the company's competitive profit margin and free cash flow generation that positions it above other global airlines.