Northwest and Delta merger talks are stuck on the runway today, as pilots continue talks on a deal to combine their workforces, AP reports. Representatives for the 12,000 pilots are hung up on issues of seniority, insiders said; directors of the airlines hoping to announce their $20-billion merger plans today are waiting for a breakthrough. The pilots unions have agreed on a joint contract, but seniority lists are crucial to determine rankings for benefits.
The airlines said a pilots’ agreement is critical to the success of the merger deal, which calls for a straight stock exchange with no premium and would create the world’s largest air carrier if it moves forward. Management is rushing to get the deal on the table under the present administration, anticipating tougher regulatory scrutiny after President Bush leaves office.