Two Drunks Holding Each Other Up

History does not shine a positive light on what’s in store for travelers now that the Delta and Northwest merger has become reality. The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday that took a look back at how some other airlines fared in the years following gigantic mergers.

The gist of the story is that nobody really does any better. “Two drunks holding each other up is not a good idea,” said one aviation consultant.

In Philadelphia, for example, US Air lost its share of the market by 16.5% after merging with America West in 2005. What happened was that Southwest came in and increased their business there by 64%.
US Air also bought Pacific Southwest Airlines and in a few years, they no longer even serviced the west coast. Struggling routes often just disappear after mergers, and that’s not good for travelers.

In a different article, another point was raised about the many kinds of airliners that the newly enlarged Delta will be flying. Too many. They will have 27 different models, and more than 1000 planes. That means many more parts, more difficult integration and headaches trying to manage such a diverse fleet. Be careful what you wish for, airlines!