Delta Denies Discussing Big Sale Of Miles To American Express To Raise Cash

During Delta’s earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Ed Bastian denied reports that they’ve been discussing the discounted pre-sale of a large amount of miles to American Express in order to raise cash.

I just wanted to add on to what Paul was saying about Amex. They’re great partners. We’ve been through thick and thin with them. We’ve done pre-sales in the past. If we come to the point where we feel that’s an important source of liquidity, we will have good constructive conversations but we are not having conversations unlike publicly reported [documents] indicate we are not and but we’re staying close to our good partners in that at some point we very well made but not, there’s nothing imminent to announce it now.

Last month I wrote that airlines have an opportunity to raise cash through their frequent flyer programs. These are big assets that they could sell a stake in, as several other airlines around the world have done. The largest airlines have multi-billion dollar annual deals with banks, and at some cost they could accelerate some of that cash.

In the years following 9/11, as airlines struggled, and again during the financial crisis airlines pre-sold miles to their credit card partners at a discount in order to raise cash quickly.

United and Delta each pre-sold miles, the former for about $500 million and the latter twice totaling about $1 billion. American did it too with Citibank. These ‘cheap miles’ paved the way for banks to offer big bonuses to consumers both for acquisition and for ongoing spend.

The Wall Street Journal had reported that both Delta and United were in talks to do this again with their credit card partners, but Ed Bastian appears to deny this is the case. There was some reference during the call that the government could take part of SkyMiles as collateral for a subsidized CARES Act loan.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Disappointed that this was an excellent excuse for a post with a Deltalina gif, what a missed opportunity.

  2. Why would anyone in their right mind collect delta skymiles. Their redemptions are extremely poor.

Comments are closed.