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Airlines pitch merger to Congress

John Dimsdale Apr 21, 2008

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: The proposed merger of Delta and Northwest is in front of Congressional committees this week. John Dimsdale reports the airlines have hired some first class talent to help steer their way through Washington’s bureaucracy.


John Dimsdale: The marriage of Delta and Northwest could send other struggling airlines to the altar. But Minnesota’s Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar worries that larger airlines will mean higher fares and fewer destinations.

Amy Klobuchar: I think that there will be turbulence in Congress.

To help land the merger, Delta and Northwest have signed up high-powered lobbyists, including former Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux.

Klobuchar: It’s not surprising me they’re hiring lobbyists, but I think the public needs a lobbyist here and that’s what we’re doing.

Clearly, the airlines are going to need some insider help, says Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt.

Henry Harteveldt: No airline merger goes unnoticed. Air service is critical to communities’ economic development, keeping people who live there in town, attracting and keeping businesses and, of course, tourism.

This week, the airlines will tell Congress their merger is necessary to weather soaring fuel costs and a struggling economy.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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