(AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a transition plan designed to combine the operations of Delta Air Lines and Eagan-based Northwest Airlines, and to achieve a single operating certificate after they merge.
Airlines are required to have an operating certificate, which means they must prove to the FAA that they have the financing and management expertise to run an airline.
Delta and Northwest each have their own operating certificate right now. The plan they submitted to the FAA outlines the methodology, processes, tools and timing they will employ to maintain the safety of their day-to-day operations during the transition period.
The FAA's seal of approval for that plan means the two airlines can move forward with the transition process. Their goal is to achieve a single operating certificate over the next 15 to 18 months.
The carriers said the plan will help make the transition of operations run more smoothly.
Shareholders at Atlanta-based Delta and Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest are scheduled to vote on the combination on Thursday.
Northwest shareholders will be asked to approve Delta's acquisition of Northwest, while Delta shareholders will be asked to issue new shares as part of the combination.
Delta announced the stock-swap deal on April 14. If approved by shareholders and federal regulators, the combination will create the world's largest carrier.
Delta hopes to complete the acquisition of Northwest by the end of the year. A federal lawsuit seeking to block the combination is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 5 in San Francisco.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)