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Richard Anderson has long been an advocate of airline consolidation, and believes an American-US Airways merger will happen soon and will be healthy for the industry. Whether that benefits consumers is another story.

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson believes the US Airways and American Airlines merger will happen “shortly.”

Speaking at a Delta investors’ day in New York this morning, Anderson said he doesn’t have any inside information about US Airways’ and American Airlines’ plans, but adds:

“I believe shortly we will have the US Air-American transaction concluded.”

Anderson explained that Delta, which completed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Northwest in 2008, backs industry consolidation, and has been “vocal supporters” of an American-US Airways transaction.

He said airline consolidation, both domestially and internationally, will continue.

And, it will take many forms, including asset transactions, joint ventures such as Delta’s with Air-France-KLM, and investments such as Delta’s 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, which was announced yesterday.

Anderson argued that steps to spur “inorganic growth,” such as the airline’s investment in Virgin Atlantic, are among the actions Delta is taking to building a “sustainable franchise.”

Of the Virgin Atlantic deal, Anderson said:

“I know for sure it is a lot better return than buying an A380.”

Delta expects to make a $1.6 billion profit in 2012, a 30% increase, he said.

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Tags: consolidation, delta air lines

Photo credit: Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson speaks during a news conference to announce the sale of Virgin Atlantic airline to Delta Air Lines, in New York December 11, 2012. Brendan McDermid / Reuters

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