The two airlines, which have been in talks regarding a combination for months, may announce a deal as early as Tuesday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cited people familiar with the situation.
The deal could proceed without the approval of Delta's 6,000 pilots, although the airilne was negotiating with them over the weekend about a post-merger contract, the report said. That would leave talks with Northwest's 5,000 pilots for a later date, the report added.
A merger would create the world's largest airline when measured by traffice, the report noted.The two airlines hoped to announce a deal in February, but their pilots' unions were unable to agree on how to merge their seniority lists, a crucial factor in airline mergers. Announcing a deal without the blessings of the pilots' groups could make for a rocky merger process by adding to management distractions, the report noted. Shares of Delta Air Lines closed Friday up 26 cents at $10.01. Northwest shares ended the session up 9 cents at $10.96.