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Merger talk could spread to more airlines

ATLANTA, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines merger under discussion could trigger a domino effect with other carriers following suit, it was reported Thursday.

Continental's Chief Executive Officer Larry Kellner told The New York Times a Delta-Northwest merger would force him to consider a merger for Continental. United Airlines Chief Executive Officer Glenn F. Tilton has said he would consider merging United with another airline.

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Delta and Northwest could save an estimated $1.5 billion annually by combining forces, industry analysts said. Delta's Chief Executive Officer Richard H. Anderson, who was previously chief executive at Northwest, would maintain the top job in the merged company, the Times reported.

Northwest's Chief Executive officer Douglas M. Steenland, who steered Northwest out of bankruptcy, would be given a job in the new company, the report said.

The merger would force cutbacks in jobs. The new company could sacrifice either Delta's hub in Cincinnati or Northwest's hub in Detroit. Similarly, operations at Delta's hub in Atlanta or Northwest's hub in Memphis could be terminated, the Times said.

Northwest reported losses of $8 million in the fourth quarter of 2007; Delta reported losses of $70 million for the same period.

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