November 5 Trial Date Set
Not everyone is looking towards what many see as the inevitable
merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines with eager
anticipation. A group of airline passengers hopes to block such a
deal from going through... and, they're going to have their day in
USA Today reports the November 5 trial will be presided over by
US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, with testimony expected to
last 10 days. A ruling could come before Thanksgiving.
Opponents to the merger, which was announced April 14, say the
combination of Delta and Northwest to create the world's largest
airline would violate anti-trust laws, leading to decreased
competition and fewer options for travelers.
The plantiffs, a group of 28 airline passengers, filed the suit
last month. Shareholders in both carriers are expected to rule in
favor of the deal in coming months, and few believe US regulators
will stand in the way of the two airlines merging operations.
"Because the government has abdicated its responsibility,
private parties are responsible for bringing these actions," said
Joseph M. Alioto, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Both carriers maintain there will still be competition from
other airlines, and they note few current Delta and Northwest
"We don't think there are any antitrust impediments to the
merger," said Ben Hirst, Northwest's general counsel. "Whether the
merger is analyzed by this Justice Department, a Justice Department
in another administration or a court, as long as the examination is
objective and professional we're very confident of what the outcome
Alioto maintains that's exactly what one would expect them to
"If the merger is allowed, the first thing that's going to
happen is they're going to increase the prices. And anybody who
thinks they're not going to eliminate a hub is crazy," Alioto
continued, adding he plans to call Delta CEO Richard Anderson and
Northwest chief Doug Steenland to testify.