DETROIT (AP) -- Northwest Airlines, which just last summer faced the possibility of being bought out by a larger competitor or getting crushed trying fly solo, again is sitting pretty in the ever-changing airline industry.
Northwest -- the main passenger carrier in its hub states of Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee -- shrugged off an overture from American Airlines as too cheap and resolved to stay single as United Airlines was crafting its $4.3-billion takeover of US Airways.
Now that United is backing out of the US Airways merger, Northwest is enjoying key advantages, including:
--It flies more passengers from the United States to Asia than any other carrier.
--It controls 75 percent or more of the traffic at its hubs in Detroit, Memphis and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
--With the midfield terminal nearing completion at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest will soon have the best airport for hub connections in the nation, according to airline consultant Michael Boyd.
At one time, some analysts fretted Northwest would be left in the cold when merger offers dried up. The mergers and near-mergers stemmed from an apparent belief that only through consolidation could top airlines survive.
Many are refuting the philosophy now.
"I doubt that any of these big mergers do much for anybody," said Sam Peltzman, a specialist in airline economics at the University of Chicago business school.
"I don't see Northwest changing anything," he added. "It's doing fine."
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