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DeltaNorthwest merger an opportunity for CUs
ATLANTA, Ga., and APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (4/17/08)--It's too early to tell what effects--if any--the proposed merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines will have on members of the credit unions that serve those airlines' employees. Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines Monday announced their intent to merge in a $3.1 billion deal that would create the world's biggest airline. Two credit unions serve the airlines' employees: Delta Community CU, based in Atlanta, and Wings Financial CU, based in Apple Valley, Minn. The merger--far from a done deal--is not a situation that will filter into the credit unions and their members anytime soon, according to the two credit unions. Nothing will change for their members soon. However, down the line, the merger could be an opportunity to provide services to their existing and new members. Even though the future's not clear, “We stand ready to meet the financial needs of Delta’s employees now and in the future regardless of the outcome of the current proposed merger with Northwest Airlines,” Mary Olson, vice president of marketing at Delta Community CU, told News Now. "This merger creates a tremendous opportunity for Wings Financial," CEO Paul Parish wrote in a message to its members. "We'll be exposed to thousands of potential new members, each with the opportunity to bring their financial services needs to Wings Financial." Wings earlier had diversified its membership beyond serving Northwest Airlines by adding family membership and expanding its charter to include the entire air transportation industry. In 2006, it opened an office in Atlanta, which "is well-located to serve the employees of the new combined carrier," Parish said. However, "we have no intention of changing any of our office operations at the present time. While that might change as the merger process progresses," the credit union will keep members informed of its plans as they develop, the notice said. If the merger goes through and layoffs ensue, Delta Community CU already has in place a strategy for such situations. “We have a program available to all of our members whose income and/or employment status has been adversely affected as a result of an involuntary furlough, job change, voluntary leave of absence, severance or early retirement program," according to Mary Olson "These members may be eligible for deferral of loan payments through our Member Assistance Program. Once they qualify, all consumer loan (excluding Visa, and first and second mortgage loans) payments may be deferred for a specified period of time,” she added. Should the merger occur, the two credit unions likely would be competing for the same membership. Olson indicated that wouldn't be a problem. "People have choices. Many credit unions overlap (membership) with others, and many people can join more than one credit union." Regardless of the outcome, Delta Community CU will be there.


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