By Maria Saporta
NEW YORK — The annual shareholders meeting for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines began at 7:30 a.m. and lasted about 20 minutes in the auditorium of the AXA Equitable Center.
Despite the large auditorium, a sparse crowd of fewer than 50 people — only about 10 of them outside shareholders — attended, and only one question was asked.
Jim White, a shareholder who has just become a vendor-supplier, praised Delta and its CEO Richard Anderson for its announcement in April that it was acquiring the Trainer Refinery Complex located south of Philadelphia. The acquisition was made by Delta subsidiary — Monroe Energy LLC.
Anderson explained that acquisition would permit the airline to better control the price it pays for fuel — one of the most volatile costs in the industry.
Other than that brief interaction during the shareholder question-and-answer portion, Anderson used the meeting to tell those present about improvements that Delta is enjoying in customer satisfaction, on-time arrivals and departures as well as its financial performance.
“Delta is seeing great momentum…,” Anderson said. “Delta continues to expand its lead against its competitors.”
Anderson went on to talk about the airline’s success in paying down its debt, reducing its fuel costs and making its fleet more efficient.”
Anderson ended his relatively brief remarks by saying: “Our work is never done at Delta.”
New York has been the venue for Delta’s annual meeting since 1999, when it decided to no longer hold its meetings in Monroe, La., where the airline first got its start in 1927. Until 1999, Delta held its annual meeting in Monroe every year with one exception — 1995 — when the airline convened its shareholders in Atlanta to help promote the 1996 Olympic Summer Games.
It was in July, 1998 when the board decided to move the annual meeting to New York. But at that time, the intent was to move the annual meeting to a variety of cities to show the importance of the airline’s presence in several cities.
After the 2012 meeting, Anderson was asked whether Delta would ever reconsider holding its annual meeting in Atlanta.
“Our board is quite focused on our shareholder base,” Anderson said. “Most of our shareholders are really here in New York.”
According to its proxy, Delta largest shareholders are: BlackRock Inc. (5.5 percent), which is based in New York; Wellngton Management Co. (6.6 percent), which is based in Boston; and Janus Capital Management LLC/Janus Overseas Fund (7.5 percent), which is based in Denver, Co.
Many of the other large shareholders are institutional investors that are based in New York.