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ryane946 10-06-2006 07:04 AM

Northwest to buy 72 regional jets
This surprised me. They split the order 50/50 between Bombardier and Embraer. Read on...

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Northwest Airlines Corp. on Thursday said it would buy 72 new regional jets for its feeder carriers as it took another step toward resizing its fleet under bankruptcy protection.

Northwest said it would split the order between 36 Embraer 175 aircraft and 36 Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. Northwest said it had options for another 96 Bombardiers and an additional 136 Embraers. The order would have to be approved by a bankruptcy judge.

The order was widely expected as Northwest has been looking to revamp the regional flying currently handled by Mesaba Aviation Inc. and Pinnacle Airlines Corp. Northwest is also seeking approval to start its own regional subsidiary, called Compass Airlines.

Eagan-based Northwest, the nation's fifth-largest airline, relies on regional carriers to feed passengers from smaller, mostly Midwestern cities into hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis, and Memphis.

Northwest said Compass would fly 36 Embraers, and that a partner to be determined later will operate the 36 Bombardiers. That sets up Pinnacle, Mesaba and the embryonic Compass to compete for those planes.

Pinnacle spokesman Phil Reed said it would compete to get the 36 Bombardiers, as well as 15 other regional jets that Northwest took away after it filed for bankruptcy protection. But he said Northwest has made it clear it won't award new jets until Pinnacle negotiates a new deal with its pilots. No new talks are scheduled.

Mesaba has also said new jets depend on winning a new contract with pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.

"One of our goals is to complete our cost restructuring as quickly as possible, so we will be in a position to compete aggressively for these jets," Mesaba spokeswoman Elizabeth Costello said.

Northwest said the new planes will have 76 seats -- its new contract with mainline pilots gives them the right to fly jets with 77 or more seats.

Northwest said Embraer would finance all 36 jets, including seven while Northwest is still operating under bankruptcy protection. Northwest said it expects to take its first deliveries of both aircraft in the second quarter of 2007. The values of the orders were not disclosed.

Northwest said the new jets will use less fuel and be cheaper to maintain than its current jets.

"This is one of the larger regional jet orders you'll see this year," said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group.

Older airlines such as Northwest used smaller jets -- often with about 50 seats -- in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but they proved uneconomical, he said. Jets like the ones Northwest is buying are more economical because they spread similar costs among more passengers.

While the new jets will go to regional partners, Northwest's mainline fleet has been among the oldest in the world, partly because of its DC-9s, which carry roughly 100 passengers. Chief Executive and President Doug Steenland said Northwest is meeting with aircraft manufacturers to talk about a replacement.

Aboulafia predicted that some of the new regional jets would replace routes currently served by DC-9s.

"They have a lot of relatively thin Midwestern routes that are served by a large fleet of very thirsty DC-9s," he said.

Several years ago, Northwest overhauled the DC-9s rather than replace them.

"At the time it seemed brilliant, but if fuel is 60 or 70 dollars a barrel, well, not so much," he said. "And regional jets are an inexpensive way to take care of some of that."

2006 The Associated Press.

BoxFlyer 10-06-2006 08:45 AM

So nice of NW management. Sounds like they are starting their own "regional airline" , the next thing you know they'll be cutting the mainline in half. I hope not. Whats next out of MSP?

Skywriting 10-06-2006 09:46 AM

Question is who will fly these aircraft and for what pay rate!

FLYBOYMATTHEW 10-06-2006 06:50 PM

I see E190s at an alter-ego mainline division for 70-seat pay in the near future.

Space Monkey 10-06-2006 07:23 PM


FLYBOYMATTHEW 10-06-2006 07:48 PM

I have heard rumors from a reliable source of E190s under the NWA certificate...with separate seniority from the mainline pilots. Is this even possible?

Space Monkey 10-06-2006 08:16 PM

NO.. in order to do that it would have to be an entirely different certificate....

Space Monkey 10-06-2006 08:16 PM

On a side note Rumors are like opinions and *********s everybody's got one...

FLYBOYMATTHEW 10-06-2006 08:48 PM

Well, if anyone can find a loop hole in scope...

maddogmax 10-07-2006 06:28 AM

NWA bought Independence Air's operating certificate and will operate the Embraer 175's through Compass. It will be a separate seniority list with some Captain positions reserved for furloughed NWA pilots.

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