Two airlines that now fly into several Iowa airports are proposing a merger that would make the combined Delta and Northwest the world’s largest airline. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the deal will likely gain federal approval if it’s determined the move won’t hurt consumers.

Grassley says he’s often thought that "the more airlines you have, the better," but that’s when oil was only selling for $30 a barrel. Now that oil’s well over $100 a barrel, he says, "it’s a whole different story." Grassley says federal regulators rejected an earlier attempt by another airline, U.S. Air, when it was trying to merge with another carrier. He sees the proposed Delta-Northwest hook-up as a "mixed bag."

Grassley says "You see big airlines in global competition also a factor for Americans to be able to compete so having a strong airline is better than having two weak airlines, maybe." The two airlines now employ a total of 80-thousand workers and it’s unclear how many would be cut if there’s a merger. Airline officials hope for a deal before the end of the year and before the Bush Administration is over, as it’s considered merger-friendly.