Labor Issues Stall Delta, Northwest Merger

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Delta and Northwest are talking about merging, but they must wait for their pilots to hammer out a deal on union seniority should they merge into one union. The merger, if approved, would create the biggest airline in the world.

STEVEN INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with airline merger talks stuck on the tarmac.

Delta and Northwest are still talking about merging, but the companies are waiting for their pilots to come to an agreement on a labor issue. The two groups of pilots, 12,000 in all, need to hammer out a deal on union seniority should they merge into one union. Seniority determines which routes and which planes a pilot flies.

A lack of an agreement is delaying the companies' plans to present a proposal for a merger that would create the biggest airline in the world if regulators approve it.

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