Delta-Northwest: Unlikely to Fly

Even if the historic merger goes through, the newly combined company will face huge difficulties getting off the ground

Since proposing a titanic merger earlier this month, executives at Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Northwest Airlines (NWA) have been busily laying out the rationale for a deal that would create the world's largest air carrier. With a combined first-quarter loss totaling $10.5 billion acting as a somber reminder of the difficulties facing the would-be company—and the airline industry as a whole—the deal's champions have argued a tie-up would strengthen the new firm's distribution of worldwide routes, help insulate it from a volatile fuel market, and even save billions of dollars by flying the same number of passengers on fewer flights.

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