Most everyone is correct. Northwest Orient had a very small domestic system and a well developed international system with an emphasis on the Orient. As the 1980's progressed, management at Northwest Orient realized that in order for their airline to remain viable and competitive in the changing times, they had to take some drastic measures. Their sole hub was in Minneapolis-St Paul with small mini hubs in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. In order for Northwest Orient to stay afloat, it had to marry itself to a carrier with a strong domestic system.
The same situation was true at Republic Airlines where Stephen Wolff was hired to save Republic from bankruptcy. He managed to turn the airline around, give it a new identity (the gray and maroon livery), and increase it's route network. In order for Republic to stay afloat, it had to join with a competitor with a strong international system.
Within the continental United States, Northwest and Republic flew some of the same identical routes with take off and landing slots opposite each other. The two carriers were perfect marriage partners.
The merger between the two was announced on January 26, 1986. In the insuing months, Republic readied itself for it's dance with destiny. Northwest looked at the merger with Republic as the most effective way of eliminating one of it's closest competitors. After all, Northwest Orient was the nation's seventh largest carrier, while Republic was the sixth largest domestic carrier.
On October 1, 1986, Northwest's 60th birthday, the merger with Republic was official and complete. The night before, Northwest's workforce numbered around 17,000 employees. The next day, it had doubled to over 30,000 employees. The hubs that were gained were Detroit, Memphis, and practically all of Minneapolis-St Paul. Ever wondered why Northwest has three concourses at Minneapolis and one (the old green concourse, now the C and D concourses) is separated from the others? It's quite simple...the C/D concourse is the old Republic concourse at Minneapolis St-Paul. All Republic facilities at Minneapolis, such as the Employee lounge, were abandoned in favor of the Northwest facilities located on the Gold Concourse, or what is now the G Concourse. Ever noticed the gate spacing on the G concourse as compared to that of the C concourse? The G concourse was set up for DC-10, 747, 707, 757, and 727 aircraft; while the C concourse was set up for all of Republic's aircraft. It can still be seen today.
I think I've managed to get myself off topic somewhat. However, the memories that have come back are something else.
Thanks to everyone.
Aviation is proof that, given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.