WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department Wednesday approved the merger of Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp., clearing its last major regulatory hurdle.
The department's antitrust division issued a statement in which it said its "thorough, six-month investigation" led it to conclude the merger "is likely to produce substantial and credible efficiencies that will benefit U.S. consumers and is not likely to substantially lessen competition."
Delta, based in Atlanta, is the third-largest airline in the United States, while Northwest is the fifth-largest.
"The airline industry faces a very difficult economic environment around the world and this merger gives Delta increased flexibility to adapt to the economic challenges ahead," Dow Jones Newswire reported Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson as saying.
"With much of the work to bring our airlines together well under way, the new Delta will be at the front of the pack in achieving the benefits of consolidation and is well positioned to navigate the tough waters ahead in a difficult economy."
Delta shares rose 0.8 percent to $8.05 in after-hours trading, while Northwest jumped 4 percent to $10.29.