The U.S. Transportation Department has tentatively granted Northwest and Delta airlines permission to coordinate their international flights.
The ruling also extends to European partners of the two airlines, including Air France-KLM and Alitalia. The decision gives antitrust immunity for the carriers to cooperate on global flights.
Northwest spokeswoman Tammy Lee says Northwest will be able to offer more seamless international connections to customers. The airline also hopes that will boost international sales.
"Antitrust immunity allows you to have more seamless coordination on the marketing side. You can do schedule planning together. You can create maximum efficiencies as to who's going to fly which routes," said Lee. "And customers as a result can choose flights that have shorter flight times because you will have fewer connections as a result of this." Last year, Northwest's trans-Atlantic flying generated $1.4 billion in passenger revenue. That represented about a 17 percent increase over 2006. Northwest and KLM have long coordinated their trans-Atlantic flying.
The Northwest-KLM joint venture has long operated under a grant of antitrust immunity.