Baucus, Tester announce direct flight from Atlanta to Billings

Senators Receive Assurances From NWA-Delta Service To Mont. Will Remain Intact

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced that if the Northwest Airlines and Delta merger goes through, the Magic City will have a direct flight to Atlanta, which will open the entire southeastern portion of the country to people traveling to and from the Big Sky state.

Last month, Baucus and Tester met with NWA and Delta CEOs in Baucus' Washington D.C. office. The senators made it clear that if the merger between the two major airlines goes through, that service to Montana better remain intact and must not be decreased in any way. Baucus and Tester received a letter from the CEOs assuring them that service would remain as it is and that a new, direct flight from Atlanta to Billings would start in 2009.

"Today's news is encouraging – I'm very pleased to see that service in and out of Montana would be maintained and that we'd get a new flight. The new flight would help us create good-paying jobs and attract new businesses to our state, which would help boost our state's economy," Baucus said. "However, the proof is in the pudding. Jon and I are going to keep a watchful on this merger if it goes through. And we'll hold NWA-Delta CEOs feet to the fire to make sure they follow through on their promises."

"With existing service plus a new route, Montanans really will be free to move about the country."  Tester said.  "Now Max and I will make sure Delta and Northwest stick to their word.  Linking Montana to a business hub like Atlanta is a smart move that will bring our state closer to new opportunities for businesses, tourism and health care."

Assurances Made To Senators In Letter From NWA-Delta CEOs:

  • Establish a direct flight from Atlanta to Billings, which will open up the Southeastern portion of the country. It will also make it easier for folks traveling internationally to and from Montana. This flight will help attract new businesses to the Big Sky state.
  • All cities in Montana that have flights will continue to have flights.
  • The number of flights to and from each city that already has service in Montana will not be decreased.
  • The size of the planes used for flights will not be decreased.

Northwest Airlines and Delta serve multiple cities across Montana. The two companies announced the planned merger in April. The U.S. Justice Department must still approve the merger.