CINCINNATI (TDB) -- With merger talk now in the air between Delta Airlines -- which has an international hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport -- and two rivals, the timing seems right for Gov. Ted Strickland to start worrying about preserving local jobs. Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who heads the Ohio Department of Development, sent a joint letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson pledging "our assistance to ensure the future viability of your operations in our region." They said they would deliver a financial aid package to keep Delta if necessary.
Delta reportedly has been discussing a merger with Northwest Airlines, which has a major hub in Detroit, and United Airlines, which has its largest base in Chicago. Any link up is seen threatening Delta's Cincinnati-area operations, which analysts consider vulnerable because both partners are Midwestern giants (Northwest is headquartered in Minneapolis; United in Chicago). Delta is a southern company with its headquarters and main hub in Atlanta. Gov. Strickland said he and Fisher want a meeting with the Delta CEO to find out what is up, and to learn what they can offer.
"The State of Ohio is committed to the future of the Delta hub, as well as over 130,000 jobs in the region that are an outgrowth of this prominent operation. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how the economic success of our region is intrinsically tied to the growth and success of Delta Airlines. As you are aware, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky hub is one of the ten largest hubs in the country and maintains the positions of Delta's second largest hub."
Strickland noted that more than 300 foreign-owned companies now operate in SW Ohio/Northern Kentucky, and 1,000 other businesses are involved in foreign trade. Those companies might suffer if access to flights are trimmed -- or they might look to move to other locations . Strickland and Fisher also pointed out that Cincinnati ranks as the USA's 22nd largest region as an exporter of products in the global economy. A link to the letter is available here courtesy of Cincinnati.com. Strickland's office had not yet posted a copy on the State of Ohio's online portal.