Baucus, Tester: Montana must be priority in Delta-NWA merger

Senators Call For Bigger Planes, Lower Fares, High-Quality Service

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today met with the chief executive officers of Delta and Northwest Airlines to help demand that service to Montana and ticket prices are protected if the airline merger goes through.

Baucus and Tester today met with Delta CEO Richard Anderson and Northwest CEO Doug Steenland in Baucus' Capitol Hill office about the potential merger that was announced earlier this month.

The senators urged the CEOs to make sure flights to Montana aren't cut, that Montana flights are on larger planes (instead of smaller, commuter flights), that fares are low and that passengers receive the highest quality service.

"Everything I do, I do with Montana in mind. I'm constantly working to do what's right for Montana and that's why I'm working so hard to make sure this merger is right for Montana," Baucus said. "Air travel is vital to our state for good-paying jobs, economic development and tourism. Jon and I want to make sure that any deal that is finalized helps boost our state and put it even more on the map. If I get the sense this deal isn't right for Montana, I'll do everything I can to put the brakes on it."

"Max and I made it very clear to these guy — Montanans can't afford more expensive plane tickets and fewer flight options," Tester said.  "We want Delta and Northwest to consider the impact of this merger on folks in rural America.  And while we're glad they came in today to hear our concerns, we're going to stay on them as this process goes forward."

Northwest Airlines and Delta serve multiple cities across Montana. While the two airlines announced the merger earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department must give its approval before the proposed merger is final.

Baucus and Tester noted that when US Airways previously attempted to merge with Delta, former Delta chief Gerald Grinstein said before the Senate Commerce Committee in 2007, "Small communities will certainly suffer.  With less competition, fares will increase."