Delta-Northwest Merger Makes Isakson's Day

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today hailed the Justice Department’s approval of the merger of Delta and Northwest airlines as an economic boost to his state during tough times.

“I’m very excited. This makes a lot of sense for Atlanta, and it’s almost a perfect marriage for the two airlines,” Isakson told Politico. “I felt like the Justice Department would approve the merger, and I’m very glad they did.”

Justice approved the $17.7 billion merger today, clearing the way for what will be the world’s largest airline.

The close of the six-month Justice review brings airline executives one step closer to their goal of closing the deal before a new president is sworn in on Jan. 20. But some lawmakers may not be so pleased.

House Transportation Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) tried to thwart the merger last spring, citing concerns over decrease competition among airlines and higher ticket fares for travelers.

The merger will move Northwest’s headquarters in Eagan, Minn., to Delta’s in Atlanta, meaning a possible loss of jobs in Minnesota. Oberstar asked Justice last spring to reject the merger, and Baucus attempted to derail it by attaching several crippling amendments to a flood insurance measure. Both attempts failed.

Montana is served by both airlines in several cities, which Baucus called “vital” to the state’s tourism economy. He had promised to oppose the deal unless airlines promised to maintain regular service and keep fares low.

Neither senator could be immediately reached for comment.