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Hearing of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee - An Examination of the Delta-Northwest Merger


Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Senate Judiciary Committee - An Examination of the Delta-Northwest Merger


SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I appreciate you and the ranking member, Senator Hatch, holding this hearing today and letting us have an opportunity to come before you.

And I particularly appreciate the opportunity to introduce Delta Air Lines' CEO, Richard Anderson. Delta's headquarters is based in Atlanta in my home state of Georgia, where they are the largest tenant of the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Richard joined Delta as a member of their Board of Directors in April of 2007. In September of 2007 he had succeeded one of Delta's finest chief executives, Gerald Grinstein.

I've been pleased to have the opportunity to get to know Richard over the past few months. Last year when he took over, Delta had recently emerged from bankruptcy, and interestingly enough he came to Delta after having served at Northwest. Under his leadership Delta strengthened its balance sheet at a time when we have seen numerous airlines file for bankruptcy or cease operations.

Richard brings more than 20 years of airline experience to the job, as he has previously served as the chief executive officer of Northwest, whose merger obviously you are here today to discuss. Richard's experience lends him the necessary skills to successfully meet the demands that will be placed on him should this merger be approved.

Mr. Chairman, we are here today to discuss the viability and the effect on consumer choices that a merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines would have on consumers. These two companies would form a stronger airline that would offer consumers increased access to international destinations. Delta has a strong presence on the East and West Coast and in European markets, while Northwest maintains a strong presence in the Midwest and Asia. These synergies should not adversely affect customer choices in air service but should actually enhance them and result in a stronger airline that should be less susceptible to economic downturns and the ever-increasing fuel prices.

Delta Air Lines has come a long way since its beginnings in Monroe, Louisiana to the international commercial airline it is today. It's been an economic engine for Georgia and the Southeast for many years. Delta -- as many airlines -- after 9/11 has faced many challenges and has emerged as a strong carrier.

As a resident of rural Georgia I fly Delta Air Lines from my home to Atlanta and back usually at least once a week. I get back and forth to Atlanta once a month at least. I fly it all the way home. So I depend on the connector airlines, also.

And you're right, Mr. Chairman, that's a very integral part of this in the overall restructure should this merger be approved and something I look forward to you following very closely but I know is going to be successful and going to be continued.

I'm very proud to have the honor to introduce a superb airline industry leader and a fine American and my good friend, Mr. Richard Anderson.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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