Northwest is ‘joining’ Delta

By | October 29, 2008
Delta Air Lines

Image by matt.hintsa via Flickr

We knew this was coming, but the day is finally here. This evening, Skymiles account holders that we are, we received an email from Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, announcing that Northwest Airlines was now part of Delta, but it would be business as usual.

We still remember the confusion of the USAirways/America West merger, remembering that separately, some people liked both of those carriers. Now, they have quickly become known for trendsetting in no-frills flying.

The acquisition by Delta of Northwest will form the world’s biggest carrier, which will retain the Delta name, exceeding the Air France-KLM combination currently holding that title. Federal regulators concluded that “the proposed merger between Delta and Northwest is likely to produce substantial and credible efficiencies that will benefit U.S. consumers and is not likely to substantially lessen competition.”

However, many believe it will lead to higher fares and fewer connections between mid-sized cities and business connections. Delta, however, to its credit, is hoping to avoid a situation like that of USAirways, which suffered many pains trying to integrate which still are present today.

The IAM, which represents Northwest baggage handlers, gate workers, and ticket agents, hopes to sign up Delta workers in those positions, which are currently not unionized. The Vice-President of the IAM claimed the merger was just “another opportunity for executives to stuff their pockets at the expense of working-class Americans.”

In practical terms, for Northwest Airlines for the foreseeable future, it will be business as usual. Delta executives will take over key leadership positions for a gradual integration. Delta signage and uniforms will begin to replace Northwest next spring, and it could take up to two years before all planes are repainted. Frequent flyer programs will ultimately be consolidated. Delta executives promised smaller hubs like Memphis and Salt Lake City will remain, but that seems doubtful when Memphis is so close to both Atlanta and Cincinnatti. They promise to have a consolidated worldwide schedule by the summer.

The new airline will fly to 375 cities in 66 countries, with 16,000 flights a day. Something is bound to be cut, either in labor redundancies, or service.

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