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14/04/2008 - Airline Merger Creates The World's Largest Airline : Saying Goodbye To An Airline I've Had A Love/Hate Relationship With
Well, some of us have been waiting for this day for quite some time. We've been watching the all the potential out comes,wondered about fleet integration, but the day has arrived today, the 14th of April.
What is this day? Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines have announced their merger. Pending government approval Northwest Airlines will no longer exist, and Delta will become the world's largest airline.
No merger goes smoothly. Delta and Northwest have been part of the same airline alliance which helps, they both fly a significant Boeing 757 fleet, which will make seat maps more confusing,but it makes front line service easier. Delta and Northwest even shared Terminal 2 at New York's JFK International Airport for years,and still share a terminal at New York's LaGuardia, after that the similarities end. The two airline pilots unions did not agree to the merge and cannot agree on seniority issues, there are overlapping "hub" issues, and of course the merging of employees, the consolidating of flight schedules, the merge of frequent flyer programs, the handling of reservations, etc etc.
How does any of this really affect you? Well, for those of you who have purchased tickets very far in advance on either Delta or Northwest need to start checking your flights as this merger gets closer and closer to coming together in reality. The two airlines will merge fleets, they will divest routes, trim overlapping schedules and this will mean we as travelers will face reduced capacity on our flights. Reduced capacity means less seats are higher fares. One factor that the Government will look at when approving (or denying) this merger is the monopoly of routes and the elimination of jobs. So this is not set in stone, but most airline mergers who get the far, with this much preparation, don't get denied
On the global scale this merge is massive. Northwest Airlines has a long established relationship with KLM. The relationship is so close they fly an aircraft fleet that can almost entirely be integrated, they both have their Business Class names "World Business Class," they both use Amsterdam (AMS) as their main Euro hub, their web sites are interlinked as well as various other integration points that make them a full working partner that manages to avoid Antitrust laws.
On a larger scale KLM is owned by Air France (Air France-KLM). Air France is likely to invest as much as it legally can in the "new" Delta after the merge. Delta, Northwest, KLM, Air France are four of the eleven member of Sky Team (well 10 members once DL and NW merge, well 9 members if you count KLM and Air France as one airline....hmmmm). This makes the world of looking for competitive airfares a little more difficult for those of you shopping for flights.
So Long Northwest. You've Been Loved. You've Been Hated. You'll Be Missed.