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Northwest Won't Rule Out Options

However, CEO Doug Steenland won't comment on a report that the carrier is holding talks with Delta.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Doug Steenland, CEO of

Northwest Airlines


, told employees Tuesday that he and his fellow executives have a "responsibility to consider the options open to us."

In a letter to employees, Steenland wrote that he would not comment on a

Wall Street Journal

report that

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

has opened merger negotiations with both Northwest and




However, he said, the airline needs to mull its options "so that we can maintain and strengthen the competitive position we have achieved." Northwest's assets include its employees, route structure, fleet, airport facilities and hubs, he said.

Northwest shares gained 8.6%. Shares in UAL rose 5%, while Delta climbed 4.4%.