Farewell, Northwest

Delta got Justice Department approval on Wednesday to take over Northwest Airlines. And the bosses of Northwest sent these final letters out to the employees:

Doug Steenland

Today, we finalized our merger transaction with Delta, creating the world’s premier global airline. With the closing of this transaction, the merged airline – including its employees, customers and the communities it serves – will be best positioned to be a strong competitor and to master the challenges that the airline industry will continue to face.

When you come to work tomorrow, you will be employees of NWA, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. The name Northwest Airlines, and our signature Red Tail, will begin to transition away. But the spirit of our Company – our “can do” attitude, our resourcefulness, our commitment to operational excellence, and our culture of innovation, will live on in the new Delta.

I am confident that as the best of the “Red” and the best of the “Blue” blend together, the 75,000 employees of the new Delta will create the biggest and best airline in the world.

It has been a pleasure to serve as your CEO and I wish you all the very best.

Message to Employees from Northwest Airlines Board Chairman,

Roy Bostock

To all Northwest employees:

On behalf of the Northwest Airlines Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate you on the completion of our merger with Delta and thank you for your hard work and dedication to Northwest.

Your commitment to the airline has shown itself through the industry-leading operating performance that Northwest has experienced over the last several months and over the course of the last several years. As a Board, we firmly believe that the Delta merger is in the best interests of you, our customers, and the communities Northwest serves. We wish you the best as you move forward as part of the world’s premier global airline.

And then they got this letter from the new bosses

To: Worldwide Employees of Delta Air Lines

From: Richard Anderson and Ed Bastian


Let us be the first to welcome you to the new Delta, the world’s largest airline with the best people, most comprehensive route network, strongest balance sheet and best position in the industry. Each of you is an important part of building this great airline.

As you know, we face a very difficult economic environment around the world. Much of the work to bring our two airlines together is well underway, and as we work together to complete the integration over the next 12-24 months, you will see that the new Delta is even better positioned to navigate the tough waters ahead in a difficult economy. The merger makes even more sense as we face an economic recession because we can capture $2 billion of benefits annually that neither airline could accomplish alone.

We have made solid progress since announcing the merger just over six months ago. We testified in Congress, received approval from the European Union, completed an unprecedented collective bargaining agreement with both pilot groups, had our plan to achieve a single operating certificate approved by the FAA, received full approval from our shareholders and, finally, received approval from the Department of Justice. Our progress has been swift but thoughtful, as completing the transaction helps us realize the benefits of the merger more quickly.

At Delta, we care about you, as a colleague and as an individual. Our foundation is open, honest and regular communication. We treat each other with dignity and respect, always. We steadfastly believe it is our obligation to provide a safe work environment for you, solid financial results, competitive pay and benefits. We will do this by ensuring Delta is a strong company built for long-term success and profitability. That is the only true job security in this industry.

Rules of the Road is a set of guidelines we use at Delta every day. If you have not already done so, please review it on DeltaNet. It was inspired by the Delta employee manual from the 1940s written by Delta’s founder, C.E. Woolman. He had a saying that is as true today as it has ever been: “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.” That is why the only way this merger could happen was if employees shared in the success of the company – from cash payouts to raises to stock awards to profit sharing. Our people will reap the rewards of their hard work.

Delta is a special place. We work hard, deliver safe and reliable operations, provide excellent customer service, treat each other with respect and truly enjoy working for this airline. The new Delta will allow us to grow on the foundation we have built over the last 79 years by bringing two airlines together. We can and will create one great airline. We have already achieved what others could not. We are unique. By working together, we will make this the most successful merger in airline history.

We look forward to what lies ahead for us, this time as a team of 75,000 strong.

Welcome to the new Delta.

  • Bexalee

    I can’t think of anything worse for the flying public in Minnesota, and all the other hub cities of Delta or NW. Now we all have one less competitor, and one more business that is really too big to fail. Whatever happened to the rules against monopolies? They haven’t learned how to make money at any size so what have they changed that will make them viable on an even larger scale? Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take until they have their hand out asking for more taxpayer money “or else”? Our elected officials (and by extension the regulatory agencies) should be out there ensuring competition, not destroying it.

  • sm

    Northwest is expert at “or else” ultimatums. It’s done this repeatedly with employees, MAC and has already had experience getting a government handout: MARCH 1992: Governor signs a $761 million financing package for NWA – down from the original $838 million. (from 2005 Mn Legislative research document “Northwest Airlines and the State of Minnesota: A Chronology”). Also the airline industry got a federal bailout package after 9/11, and NWA got part of this pie.

    Yes, whatever happened to monopolies and anti-trust? Has the definition of monopoly changed to global only instead of national? What’s next, the galaxy? Too big is too big. The risk of the whole thing crashing down is too great, and dragging everything it’s attached to into a quicksand morass.