Delta, Northwest Airlines Merge

Having received approval from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Atlanta-based Delta Airlines announced yesterday that it has merged with Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines. Long expected, the merger between the nation's third and fifth largest airlines will create a "premier global airline" under the Delta moniker, according to Delta, which said it will integrate Northwest and its customers into the Delta system gradually over the course of the next 12 to 24 months.

"The airline industry faces a very difficult economic environment around the world and this merger gives Delta increased flexibility to adapt to the economic challenges ahead," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement. "With much of the work to bring our airlines together well under way, the new Delta will be at the front of the pack in achieving the benefits of consolidation and is well positioned to navigate the tough waters ahead in a difficult economy."

News of a rumored merger between Delta and Northwest broke as early as summer 2007, when Anderson took the helm at Delta. It became official, however, in April of this year, when the companies formally announced the massive amalgamation.

Stakeholders in both airlines approved the merger last month, as did the FAA. The transaction's final regulatory hurdle was the DOJ, which announced yesterday that its Antitrust Division had completed a six-month investigation into the companies and their intentions.

In the following prepared statement, the division concluded that the merger would help—not hurt—U.S. air travel:

"After a thorough, six-month investigation, during which the division obtained extensive information from a wide range of market participants—including the companies, other airlines, corporate customers and travel agents—the division has determined 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."

Although Northwest is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta, Delta plans to maintain the airlines' separate Web sites, operations and customer loyalty programs for the immediate future. In 2009, however, it will launch a fully consolidated worldwide flight schedule, integrate the Delta and Northwest brands, consolidate the airlines' loyalty programs and fully integrate their Web sites, kiosks and other customer-facing technology.

"This is a different type of merger for the industry thanks to the complementary nature of the two airlines and the caliber of the people who will make this the most successful merger in airline history," said Delta President and Chief Financial Officer Edward Bastian, who is now also president and CEO of Northwest Airlines.

For more information about the new Delta, which will serve customers in 66 countries and more than 375 cities, visit news.delta.com.