WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has approved a much-anticipated merger between Delta and Northwest, clearing the way for the creation of the world's largest airline.
Federal regulators said Wednesday the merger would likely benefit consumers without substantially reducing competition.
Another hurdle remains ahead, however: a federal lawsuit seeking to block the deal. Trial is set for Nov. 5 in San Francisco.
The combined airline would be called Delta and keep its Atlanta headquarters and its chief executive, Richard Anderson.
Northwest would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta during the integration process.
Wednesday's decision caps a six-month Justice Department investigation of the deal.
Government lawyers said the merger probably would create savings by combining airport operations, information technology and other efficiencies that ultimately would drive down prices for consumers.
Other carriers will provide competition for the merged airlines on "the vast majority" of the routes where Delta and Northwest have been competing, the Justice Department said in a statement issued by its Antitrust Division.