Officials point out positives of airline merger - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Officials point out positives of airline merger

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - At an Airport Authority meeting Thursday morning, airport officials pointed out the positives of a merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines. 

They managed to find the bright side of the business deal on every front - even the rising cost of fuel.

Memphis International Airport has more air service per capita than any other city in the United States.  It is an economic engine that provides one in four jobs in Memphis. 

That's why airport authority chairman Arnold Perl believes Memphis stands to benefit from a Delta and Northwest merger. 
"Memphis is looked upon with some skepticism in the industry because we're the smallest hub.  But smaller doesn't mean weaker," Perl said.

For the traveler, a merger, plus recent antitrust immunity, opens the door to more international flights, including those from Memphis to London, Rome, Paris, and Tokyo.   But what about the cost to fly?  Perl said the future of fares will be determined more by the price of fuel than a merger. 
"We're America's hassle free connecting hub, and as Americans know, with the price of fuel going up, the Memphis hub becomes even more important," Perl said.

Memphis airlines actually spend less money on fuel, because minimal delays mean planes spend less time on the ground or circling in the air.
"So as the cost of fuel goes up, that's an advantage for Memphis," Airport Authority President Larry Cox said.

While it is their job to point out the positives, Airport Authority leaders make a compelling case that an airline merger means a brighter future for Memphis International. 

The Airport Authority said the merger puts the Memphis hub in a stronger position because it makes the combined carrier stronger than Northwest alone. 

But it could be at least two years before the two airlines become one.

Click here to send an email to Anna Marie Hartman.

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