What a difference a deal makes. Even one that might never happen.

When word emerged that Delta Air Lines was exploring merger talks with Northwest and United airlines, local chatter about the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) lurched from the angry “Do something about these sky-high airfares!” to a scared “Save the hub!”

At first, industry experts said a merger with Northwest could dismantle Delta’s “fortress hub” operations here — Delta’s second-largest in its network — and perhaps end direct international flights. Politicians who have said little about CVG’s high airfares  rushed to the merger-hub issue. Governors of Kentucky and Ohio (newly elected Steve Beshear and Ted Strickland) issued concerned statements about potential economic harm. Federal lawmakers on both sides of the river called for hearings based on anti-trust concerns.

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