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Pilots said to be still looking for solution in Delta talks

MINNEAPOLIS - Northwest Airlines pilots are continuing to look for a solution to the stalled talks with Delta pilots, and they're not under a deadline to make a deal, a person with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday.

Pilots for Northwest Airlines Corp. and Delta Air Lines Inc. have not met for a week, but the person, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said there's no indication they won't keep trying.

The person said the pieces of a merger are in place, held up only by the lack of a seniority agreement between the pilots at each carrier.

Unlike prior airline mergers, Northwest and Delta have tried to get their pilots to work out their own integration in advance of any airline combination. Seniority is a major issue for pilots because it determines who gets desirable (and higher-paying) planes, routes and schedules.

Northwest's pilots' union has said seniority issues must be addressed if they're going to agree to a merger.

Shares in Delta and Northwest continued their slide on Thursday. Northwest shares dropped $1.10, or 7.3 percent, to close at $14. Delta shares dropped 91 cents, or 6 percent, to close at $14.09.

Northwest shares had traded as high as $20.12 on Feb. 1, and are off 30 percent since then. Delta shares have lost 24 percent of their value since trading as high as $18.64 on Feb. 1. Rising oil prices have hurt most airline shares.

And Delta and Northwest shares have been hurt in recent days as the stall in pilot talks became apparent.