United announced a $5 billion financing secured by its MileagePlus loyalty program, which later grew to $6.8 billion.

Now Delta is expected to follow suit, raising money against the SkyMiles program after the Labor Day weekend.

The airline is set to market new loans and bonds secured by its SkyMiles loyalty program after the U.S. Labor Day holiday on Sept. 7, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The size of the deal and terms, including yield, are still being finalized and could change, said one of the people, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter.

American Airlines is using its loyalty program as collateral for a subsidized federal CARES Act loan. United still had assets to use for a government loan, even borrowing against MileagePlus in the marketplace. American for its part thought they couldn't manage something like United's deal quickly because AAdvantage isn't a separate corporate entity. The details on how Delta managed to pull this off should be fascinating once they're available.

Whereas past advance sales of large blocks of miles to credit card partners have on balance probably been good for members, borrowing against the program may not be although it's far from a foregone conclusion.

You'd expect lenders to want a strong program to secure future member interest and an ongoing revenue stream yet in practice that's not how things usually work out. Still, while Delta has a strong elite program, there's really not much left to devalue on the earn-and-burn side.


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