Well, Memphians could take comfort in this statement from the new Delta Borg PR Dept:
Delta said the carrier will maintain the nine hubs of both airlines in the United States, Europe and Asia, serving more than 390 destinations in 67 countries.Maintaining a hub is not the same as maintaining the same level of service at a hub. While we have no evidence that the Delta PR dept routinely lies in its media releases we DO have evidence that other airlines completing mergers have lied about their plans regarding hubs:
"The TWA transaction is quite different. TWA is one way or another going to disappear as a corporate entity. So what we're doing by acquiring TWA is simply preserving 21,000 jobs and a very important and vital hub operation in St. Louis," Carty said.It was apparently so vital they decided to cut the operations in half in 2003. In fairness, there is still a mini-hub there (you can compare all the big airline hubs here).
The economic reasons for this merger are far from nefarious and based simply on the current state of the economy, the industry and the price for Jet A aviation fuel. A merger will allow paring of duplicitous routes, allow them to trim personnel and raise fares, all in the interest of reaching a profit, which is the bottom line for any business. If United now merges with American or US Air it'll eventually all shake out in the wash with new airlines filling the gaps of the cuts we're now seeing. There's always room for a new Southwest Airlines to be born.
But everyone here is justifiably worried, especially in light of the local housing market downturn (a lot of highly-paid pilots and flight crew personnel live here). When American gobbled TWA folks said the Chicago hub was so congested AA would likely keep St. Louis, which is exactly what some are now saying about NW + Delta vis a vis Atlanta and Memphis. It wouldn't be surprising to see Delta turn Memphis into a St. Louis-like reliever hub for Atlanta, which would be better than gone. But the more gates they shed the more likely another carrier will be lured by our local weather and geographic positioning and eventually fill the gap should Delta leave. So Memphians should remain cautiously optimistic.