Is silence golden after all?

Sometimes silence, after all, is golden. The silence coming from Delta Air Lines this weekend, main.jpg after its merger committee had met to consider possible combinations with United or Northwest, certainly gave an opportunity to scribblers everywhere to reflect on mergers and consolidation. Some of the results of their thinking reflect a more cautious approach than the ‘merger mania at any minute’ theme of the week before. Here’s an example, including quotes from someone you know. At theImageView.jpg height of the silence, organised labour injected a cautionary note when Lee Moak, head of the Air Line Pilots Association group at Delta, reminded his members that the union had opened a strike preparedness committee to ready the union for action if Delta moves toward consolidation in a direction the union dislikes or distrusts, or if the carrier keeps ALPA out of merger talks, if any.
But even with all the obstacles – labour-group integration, federal and local political objections – some keen-eyed observers see signs of movement. Delta, which is by consensus the most likely prime mover in any industry-wide shakeup, has apparently been talking to Moak. And Moak would SkyWestTail.png have to sign off on any deal. Bill Swelbar, the MIT airline project director, adds that Delta has apparently taken its Comair regional unit off the sales block. “Comair would be central in any big transaction. It could be the divestiture that overcomes political and regulatory objections to a merger, and Delta would be right to hold off on a sale until it sees the way its network would look,” Swelbar tells us in a weekend chat. Like others, he sees antitrust objections about diminished competition as a surmountable barrier.

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