When each of the three largest U.S. airlines launched their merger proposals, one primary argument made to regulators and the public kept recurring.
The marriage in question, they claimed over and over agin, would result in a healthier airline with the financial wherewithal to invest in the operation and improve the overall experience.
Flying, the public was told, is often a nightmarish ordeal because of pinched finances and, by extension, airline employees nervous about their job security.
With the trio of megamergers in various states of completion, Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) executives brag that their operation—which integrated Northwest in a smooth fashion virtually unknown among airlines—is a template for how customer service and financial performance can travel together.
Delta acquired Northwest in 2008 and has been reporting record financial profits, plus the restoration of its quarterly dividend. The airline finished fourth in the 2013 Airline Quality Rating, an annual compilation (pdf) of how U.S. carriers performed in on-time performance, denied boardings, baggage handling, and customer complaints.
The analysis is performed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University. “Bigger hasn’t always been better, but in Delta’s case we are seeing a large airline perform at levels usually only seen by smaller low-fare carriers,” Wichita State marketing professor Dean Headley, one of the report’s co-authors in a news release. As Airlines Grow Bigger, Do They Actually Get Better? - Businessweek