As part of its recently updated five-year financial plan, Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) has authorized a $500 million share repurchase program over the next three years, and instituted a $0.06-per-share quarterly dividend for shareholders of record on Aug. 9, the company announced today.

In addition to the repurchase plan and quarterly dividend, which is expected to return more than $1 billion to shareholders over the next three years, Delta will contribute up to $1 billion to its defined benefit plan, beyond the existing required annual minimum payments of $650 million to $750 million.

According to Delta Chairman of the Board Daniel Carp, "Delta's financial performance and balance sheet have strengthened considerably over the past five years, and the board believes the company is now in a position to begin returning cash to our shareholders."

Delta intends to use its free cash flow to fund the new financial commitments, and to, "further reduce the company's debt, and opportunistically address longer-term pension funding needs, driving up to $5 billion of value to Delta's shareholders," according to the announcement.