Delta given early departure from airline industry group

On-time departures are often the best you can hope for from the airlines. But a tiff between Delta Air Lines and a major industry association has led to an early Delta departure from the group -- six months early.

After Atlanta-based Delta gave notice earlier this week that it planned to leave the nation's leading airline industry group over differing views on policy issues, the trade group Airlines for America volleyed back with its own rebuke.

A4A, as the association is known, said Delta had given six months' notice of its plan to leave as required under the association's bylaws, but the board opted to hasten Delta's departure, voting unanimously to waive the notice period for Delta to leave.

The board also voted to cover Delta's remaining $2.5 million in dues for A4A to maintain its full budget. Board chairman Doug Parker, who is also CEO of American Airlines, said the board "believed an immediate departure was in the best interest of the association," according to a press release.

The group's board includes executives from American, United, Southwest, Alaska Airlines and Sandy Springs-based UPS, and had included Delta CEO Richard Anderson. Anderson was not present at the association's board meeting Thursday, according to A4A.

Delta earlier this week issued a statement saying the $5 million it pays in annual dues to the association can be better used for its own business and to support “what we believe is a more efficient way of communicating in Washington on issues that are important to Delta customers and employees.”

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

The "'I quit!' 'You're fired!'" exchange offers an unusual glimpse into the high-stakes squabbles among industry leaders.

But the move was also practical, according to A4A. The association's president Nick Calio said the board decision will eliminate confusion on the group's key industry issues including air traffic control modernization -- on which Delta and A4A disagree.