FFOCUS Responds to the Delta/Northwest Merger Proposal

FFOCUS Responds to the Delta/Northwest Merger Proposal

Mystic Island, NJ - There is no doubt that the airline industry is fundamentally changing. Recently announced bankruptcies and several outright cessations of operation have been notable news items. The industry is being shaken to its core by inefficient business practices, needless backend processes and, of course, skyrocketing fuel prices. Without question, something must change to ensure the long-term viability of air travel as a regular form of transportation.

The recently announced merger of Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines along with the seemingly imminent tie-up of Continental and United has left us wondering where the airline passenger will stand in a consolidated airline industry. Recent action by the federal government to increase involuntary denied boarding (IDB) compensation from $400 to $800 is a promising step in protecting airline passengers from customer service breakdowns encountered while travelling.

With a sizable majority of our members having endured (and continuing to endure) the still-incomplete 2005 merger of America West Airlines and US Airways and the customer service lapses that followed, we are deeply interested in the protections to consumers being offered by the management of Northwest and Delta and the effect it will have on our growing membership. A healthy airline industry is one that is financially sound and able to provide at least a reasonable, competitive level of customer service.

We will reserve judgment until all of the facts are presented, but the official position of FFOCUS is one of cautious optimism. Our confidence in the management of Delta and Northwest is strong, based on the overwhelming support we received from them in placing our members into their frequent flyer ranks during the undeniably chaotic 2006-2007 period of the US Airways/America West merger as well as the generally favorable opinions we've received from passengers and employees alike.

We challenge Delta and Northwest to take the necessary steps to ensure that, should it be approved, the merger will result in a new airline that sets higher standards of customer service, reaches new heights in customer satisfaction, and preserves the most fundamental qualities an airline should possess: Safety, Reliability, and Consistency. From our Policy Committee to our greater than 1,000 members, FFOCUS stands willing to work with them in providing input from a customer perspective on the proposed merger and will provide any insight, information, or assistance they may need in taking care of their customers through what will certainly be a very complex merger.