Goodbye, Northwest

Sure, we’ve said it before, but now Northwest Airlines really is gone.

Despite their merger, Delta and Northwest were actually separate airlines, both owned by Delta. That’s why the story out of Detroit this week involved a Northwest Airlines flight, not a Delta flight.

But that’s the last time that’ll happen. There was no way, of course, for it to end any other way once the merger was announced. Still, when the word came officially today, it was a bit like the news that the governor won’t stop the execution for some old Northwest employees. The Federal Aviation Administration has given Delta a single operating certificate for both airlines — starting at midnight tomorrow — effectively consigning Northwest to the ash heap of history.

Delta can now merge safety procedures including crew scheduling, aircraft maintenance, flight operations, training and other operational issues. The red tail is slowly disappearing, the DC-9s are being retired, the Northwest Web site will be shut down.

A Northwest video last year declared “the sun will never set on Northwest Airlines.” But it will. Tomorrow.