While Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines are part of SkyTeam, the decision from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has no bearing on the move by the two airlines to merge. Those plans are under review by the US Department of Justice. The four other members of SkyTeam are Air France, Alitalia, Czech Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Northwest already has an alliance with KLM and Delta is allied with the other three airlines.
Under terms of the new Open Skies Plus agreement between the US and European Union (EU), Transatlantic markets are open to other competitors since both US and EU airlines are now permitted to serve any routes between the two entities.
In approving the antitrust immunity, DOT said that, “the proposed alliance is in the public interest because it features a proposed new and highly integrated joint venture that will likely produce efficiencies and provide consumers with additional price and service options.”
In reflecting on the announcement, Glen Hauenstein, Delta's executive vice president Network Planning and Revenue Management, said, "We are pleased the DOT recognizes once again that antitrust immunity offers significant advantages to customers including more choice in flight schedules, travel times, services and fares. This grant of immunity allows us to expand these benefits for our customers to two other airline partners and significantly strengthen the SkyTeam Alliance.