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3 AIRLINES MOVING CLOSER TO JOINT RESERVATION SYSTEM

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Delta Air Lines, which operates a major hub in Salt Lake City, Northwest Airlines and Trans World Airlines have reached a preliminary agreement to join their computerized reservation systems into a global operation based in Atlanta.

The three airlines said earlier this month they were discussing such a venture, which would operate as an autonomous company with independent management.Though no single carrier will control the new company, Atlanta-based Delta will own the largest chunk at 40 percent. Northwest, based in Eagan, Minn., will own 33.3 percent, and New York-based TWA will own 26.6 percent.

Delta spokesman Jim Lundy said the percentages are based on the relative size of the carriers in the industry.

The planned system would combine the technologically superior Pars reservation system, started three years ago by NWA and TWA, with Delta's Datas II system. Delta also will pay $48 million to TWA under the proposal.

The joint system would be consistent with the design of emerging international reservations systems, the three airlines said in an announcement.

The three airlines also said other carriers will have an opportunity to become partners.

The planned system must be approved by the airlines' boards and federal regulators. A plan earlier this year to merge Delta's reservation system with industry leader Saber, owned by American Airlines parent AMR Corp., was abandoned after the Justice Department threatened to file an antitrust suit.

The federal agency said the Delta-Saber plan would harm competition in the computerized sale of airline tickets.