The announcement of Delta's acquisition of Northwest this week has been a long time coming. However, this merger raises a number of concerns for Minnesota.
The details of the Delta-Northwest combination are not fully clear. It is imperative that the state of Minnesota and others ask all the appropriate questions.
The loss of Northwest could have significant ramifications upon the Minnesota economy in several areas.
First, it is likely that the combined Delta-Northwest will offer fewer flights out of Minneapolis-St. Paul than they have as separate airlines. The result is even more likely due to the escalating price of fuel, a major airline cost.
Second, Delta has already said that the airline's headquarters will remain in Atlanta. This will result in job losses in Minnesota. Northwest currently has job commitments to the state due to previous state financial assistance.
Third, routes to airports in outstate Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas currently served by Northwest could be endangered by the new Delta-Northwest merger as these routes are often the least profitable.
Fourth, the Delta-Northwest merger will likely bring other airlines to consider merger, which in turn will further decrease fare competition and increase travel costs in the upper Midwest.
Finally, the number of direct flights abroad from Minneapolis-St. Paul will likely decrease as they are shifted to the Detroit and/or Atlanta hubs.
These and other questions all need to be addressed by state and federal officials as the U.S. Department of Justice considers the proposed Delta-Northwest deal.
This merger is not a good deal for Minnesota and the upper Midwest.