This merger could either cause less available flights and more expensive crowded planes, or everything could be perfect and great like the press release!
Delta is saying there will be no route cancellations or hub closures to worry about. They maintain this will be good for the consumer because a combined fleet will better deal with rising oil prices. Plus, more delicious in-flight meal options will be offered, apparently. (We suggest adding burgers and ribs to the menu.)
But we’re not buying all this happy-fun-times nonsense. Delta has major hubs for domestic flights in Cincinnati and Atlanta. But Northwest has them in Detroit and Memphis. These hubs are obviously in very close proximity to their former competitor’s. This would lead to plenty of inefficiencies and overlap for one company, making it impossible to keep all those hubs open. As a result, their closures would lead to bigger layoffs and less choice for passengers. Some have even pointed out that, after looking through the Aviation Travel Consumer Reports, Northwest and Delta earned consistently poor ratings for customer satisfaction and a combined effort may create of a vortex of lost baggage and canceled flights.
All of this may be inconsequential though, because Northwest has refused to address the concerns of their pilots’ union, which is vehemently opposing the merger. Those pesky mavericks could stop this deal dead in it’s tracks.
The newly merged company will be called Delta, but all previous frequent flier miles and rewards from Northwest will be honored under the deal. However, everyone will agree that Northwelta would have been a cooler company name.
New York Times: Delta and Northwest in $3 Billion Deal, April 15, 2008