Monday, May 12, 2008

Back to the Future

Dragging myself out of the stratocruiser (last post) and back to the future . . . where the little old airline on the prairie is morphing itself into THE BIGGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD. What's up with the merger, you ask? Both NWA and Delta are publicly pretty quiet right now. Are they deciding it's a bad idea and scrapping their plans like United and Continental recently did? A word of caution: this is merely the next phase of the deal. The "lull them into submission" phase.

Last week Delta president Ed Bastian assured the Minnesota legislature that MSP would remain a hub, but resisted all entreaties to keep headquarters of the newly merged airline in the Twin Cities. Current financial agreements between Northwest and Minnesota require the carrier to keep its headquarters, a hub and a certain number of employees in Minnesota or pay back over 200 million in bond debt. Mr. Bastian stated that the company is preparing to negotiate a way out of the headquarters requirement with Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office. Hmmm. Will this happen before or after Pawlenty is named Senator John McCain's running mate, I wonder? Just today it was reported that the guv is Numero Uno on McCain's list. But who says politics have anything to do with this, anyway?

So in the meantime, what should we look for? How about higher fares, fuel surcharges, overbooked flights, forced groundings, extra charges for more than one suitcase, aisle seats, and (to use the term loosely) "food.". . . but hey, this is progress, right? It was recently reported that several airlines were arbitrarily reducing speed to conserve fuel, resulting in longer flights. Now congress is actually looking into regulating airlines again. Wow. That would put us back where I came in - the 1950's. Longer flights, great food and less hassle. Yes!


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