Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Triage Twins go to Washington

Hmmmmm. Lets see if I've got this right. An airline (Delta) that lost 6 billion dollars last quarter wants to buy an airline (NWA) that lost 4 billion dollars last quarter. This does give new meaning to the phrase economy of scale.

Well I guess that does work; economy of scale being one of the benefits of the merger touted by the triage twins (CEO's Anderson and Steenland) when they first heralded their impending coupling. I use the word triage here to convey the lifesaving mission (airline saving mission) these gentlemen see themselves on. The two airlines don't have much overlap in the types of aircraft in their fleets - no economy there. And they only overlap on 12 out of 1,000 non stop routes - no economy there. With the exception of the pilots, Delta is non union and NWA is thoroughly union. I don't even know how to compute that, economy-wise. The only chance for economy I see is cutting off the head (management) of one of the airlines and guess which one that might be? Right! Our little old airline on the prairie, NWA.

Have you checked out their new web site ? Of course it paints the rosiest of pictures of the merger, being a colossal public relations device. The triage twins are in Washington as I write this, attempting to smooth the way. They see the best chance for a successful merger happening during the current occupant's reign in the white house. Today and tomorrow they will meet with Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Coleman who both have "expressed concerns" about the merger. Tomorrow Anderson and Steenland will testify before the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. And coming around the bend, Rep. Jim Oberstar D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, plans to hold hearings on the merger. Oberstar's strategy, according to one of his aides, is to try to "run out the clock," hoping that the next administration might not be as tolerant of the concept of the BIGGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD as the present one.

All we can do is endure for the rest of the year. I hope the count down to the NWA/Delta merger won't be as painful as the count down to the national election is already proving to be.


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