Delta Air Lines Monday confirmed months of speculation by announcing it had finally reached an agreement to acquire Northwest Airlines for $3.1 billion. The merger, if approved, will create the world's largest airline and could lead to similar mergers among competing airlines. Some industry consultants have suggested that future mergers could consolidate about 80 percent of the nation's air traffic into three mega-carriers.
The new carrier will carry the Delta name and be based in Atlanta. The combined nine domestic and international hubs of both airlines will all continue operations. The carrier will be worth $35 billion in annual revenue, have a fleet of more than 800 airplanes serving 390 destinations in 67 countries, and employ 75,000 people.
For customers, the deal could lead to higher fares on some routes where the two carriers now compete, but there is relatively little overlap between the two, according to CNN Money. The deal still needs to be approved by Congress and antitrust regulators in Europe will also scrutinize the deal. Delta pilots have announced their support of the merger, but Northwest pilots and flight attendants indicate that they may oppose the deal.