MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Higher airline fares and fewer passenger flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport could be the result of a possible acquisition of Northwest Airlines by American Airlines, according to a Metropolitan Airports Commission consultant.
The consultant, Global Aviation Associates, of Washington, D.C., says such an acquisition is unlikely because of widespread public and private concerns about dwindling competition.
But in the event of a merger, consequences probably would be transitional rather than severe or traumatic for Minnesota's economy, according to the firm's report.
The commission had planned to discuss the report Monday.
The consultant said the ripple effects of a merger could include less choices as passengers on flights to Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio had relatively high proportions of empty seats last year, making those cities candidates for downgraded service.
Fares could also be driven up by less competition between cities now served by Northwest and American.
Elimination or reduction of jobs in Northwest's headquarters, management, planning, accounting, reservations and information systems probably would be phased in as well. But the impact might not be serious because of ''the extremely low unemployment rate in the region, and the highly skilled work force,'' which presumably could find other jobs.
The report also said a merger could bring some of American's strengths, including its ''historical commitment to product delivery and quality,'' to Northwest.
And because of international alliances, including Northwest with KLM and British Airways with American, a Northwest-American merger could open more European connections to Minnesota passengers through cities such as London; Zurich, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium.
The Global Aviation report, prepared under the direction of managing director Jon Ash, repeats earlier statements to the MAC that a Northwest-American merger is unlikely because of hurdles posed by labor, Congress, regulatory agencies and public interest groups.
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