Shareholders from both Delta and Northwest voted on September 25 to approve the two airlines' proposed merger. Each airline's shareholders offered nearly unanimous support for the tie-up. So what's next on the agenda? The airlines must receive regulatory approval from the Department of Justice, which will look at the numerous antitrust concerns surrounding this deal. There's also a pending lawsuit, filed against the merger in an effort to kill it.
Assuming the merger passes these tests, the idea of a combined carrier could become a reality quicker than we think. With that, it's worth wondering whether or not the resulting mega-airline will actually be good for customers. Over at the Wall Street Journal's Middle Seat Terminal blog, it's noted that Cincinnati, in particular, may take see a sharp drop-off in flights, and a corresponding spike in prices. The airport is a major hub for Delta, so previously competing Northwest routes will likely be dropped.
A large part of the reasoning behind this deal has always been the two airlines' complimentary schedules which, at the level of a global route network, have little overlap. However, the Cincinnati case suggests we could see route consolidation at each airline's hubs, which include Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and Memphis for Northwest, and Cincinnati, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City for Delta.