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Major Airline Merge, Forming World's Biggest Carrier

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Major Airline Merge, Forming World's Biggest Carrier

Delta Air Lines says it has reached an agreement with Northwest Airlines to take over Northwest and create the world’s biggest carrier. The boards of both companies have approved the deal. Another deal is in the works that would join Continental Airlines with Chicago-based United.

Mergers touch everything from frequent-flier programs to routes and ticket prices. Jon Infanger is the editorial director of Airport Business.

INFANGER: While signage and issues like that are important for an airport, and obviously there’s costs involved, the biggest issue is, ‘Are we going to lose service? Will we have an opportunity to get service?’

O’Hare, a major business hub, would be affected differently than Midway, the local stronghold of lower-cost carriers. If all four airlines became two, Ingfanger wonders:

INFANGER: Will people in Chicago have direct service to Green Bay? Will people in Chicago have direct service to Reinlander? Will people in Chicago have service to South Bend, Indiana or even St. Louis? Who knows.

The spokeswoman for O’Hare and Midway declined to comment. The director of Peoria’s airport, Ken Spirito, says it’s a mixed bag for passengers and airport management there.

SPIRITO: It may force passengers to drive to the larger hub, which has more capacity, and more competition, and therefore lower fares.

Spirito hopes Peoria’s new, larger terminal—to be completed in 2010—will help retain and attract airlines and passengers. The airport currently manages 25 flights a day. United, Northwest and Delta are three of its five carriers.

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