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Shareholders of


(DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report




meet Thursday and are expected tooverwhelmingly back the deal combining the two airlines, the

Associated Press


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The combined company would be the world's biggest carrier.

Four shareholder advisory firms have recommended votes in favor of the combination. A union that represents 12,500 Northwest ground workers opposes the deal. Majority votes are needed for the proposals to pass.

An OK from shareholders leaves U.S. regulatory approval and a pending federal lawsuit seeking to block the deal as the only remaining hurdles, according to the


. Delta hopes to close the deal by the end of the year.

Delta's acquisition of Northwest is valued at about $2.8 billion, roughly $800 million less than when the deal was announced in April, the



This article was written by a staff member of