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Could Delta, Northwest merge?
Report: Analysts speculate that the two carriers could explore merger while in bankruptcy.
September 16, 2005: 10:59 AM EDT
AIRLINE TURBULENCE

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - After almost simultaneously filing for bankruptcy this week, industry analysts now speculate that Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines could explore a possible merger, according to a report published Friday.

"I wouldn't be at all surprised. In the past, these two airlines have talked and they have very little route overlap," Benchmark analyst Helane Becker told USA Today.

According to the newspaper, Atlanta-based Delta is concentrated in the East and launches more daily flights across the Atlantic than any other carrier.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest is concentrated in the Midwest with a strong route structure in Asia, the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, both companies filed for bankruptcy. Delta, the nation's No. 3 airline, filed first. (For more on Delta's filing, click here.)

Northwest, the No. 4 carrier, followed within minutes. (Full story.)

The report said minimal overlap is considered an advantage with federal regulators since such a merger would involve convincing government regulators that the combination would not significantly reduce competition, or that one or both of the airlines would fail without the merger.

The newspaper said Northwest declined to comment. A Delta spokeswoman told USA Today that the company "expects there will be more consolidation in the industry," adding that for now, Delta is focused on its own restructuring efforts.

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