Northwest Orient Airlines

Northwest Airlines
Founded1926 (as Northwest Airways)
HubsDetroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
Memphis International Airport
Narita International Airport
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Focus citiesIndianapolis International Airport
Honolulu International Airport
Frequent flyer programWorldPerks
Member loungeWorldClubs
SubsidiariesCompass Airlines
Mesaba Airlines
Fleet size359 (+26 orders)
Company sloganNow You're Flying Smart.
HeadquartersEagan, Minnesota
Key peopleDouglas Steenland (CEO)
Neal Cohen (CFO)
Website: [1]
Northwest Airlines (NYSENWA), occasionally known as NWA, is a United States[1] airline headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in the United States. Northwest has three major hubs in the United States: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, and Memphis International Airport. Northwest also operates flights from a hub in Asia at Narita International Airport near Tokyo and also operates transatlantic and Asian flights in cooperation with partner KLM from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Additionally, it maintains focus city operations at Indianapolis International Airport and Honolulu International Airport.

Northwest is the world's fourth largest airline in terms of scheduled passenger miles flown.[2] In addition to operating one of the largest domestic route networks in the U.S., Northwest carries more passengers across the Pacific Ocean (5.1 million in 2004) than any other U.S. carrier, and carries more domestic air cargo than any other American passenger airline.[3] It is the only U.S. combination carrier (passenger and cargo service) operating dedicated Boeing 747 freighters. The airline, along with its parent company, Northwest Airlines Corporation and subsidiaries, operated under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection which, in the United States, allows continued operation during the reorganization effort, not cessation of flights as in the case in some countries. Northwest emerged from bankruptcy protection on May 31, 2007.

Northwest Airlines' regional flights are operated under the name Northwest Airlink by Mesaba Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines, and Compass Airlines. Northwest Airlines will become the minority owner of Midwest Airlines in the fourth quarter of 2007.[4] Its frequent flyer program is called WorldPerks. Northwest Airlines' tagline is "Now you're flying smart."


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The Curtiss Oriole, one of two biplanes Northwest used initially to haul U.S. mail.


Northwest Airlines was founded in 1 August 1916 by Col. Lewis Brittin, under the name Northwest Airways. Like other early airlines, Northwest's focus was not in hauling passengers, but in flying mail for the U.S. Post Office Department.[5] The fledgling airline established a mail route between Minneapolis and Chicago, using open cockpit biplanes such as the Curtiss Oriole.

Northwest began flying passengers in 1927. In 1928, the airline started its first international route with service to Winnipeg, Canada. The airline's operations were expanded to smaller cities in the region by the end of the decade. In 1931 Northwest sponsored Charles and Anne Lindbergh on a pioneering flight to Japan, scouting what would become known as the Northwest Airlines Great Circle route, and proving that flying through Alaska could save as much as 2,000 miles (0 km) on a New York-Tokyo route. In 1933, Northwest was designated to fly the Northern Transcontinental Route from New York City to Seattle, Washington; it adopted the name Northwest Airlines the following year as a result of the Air Mail Scandal. Northwest stock began to be publicly traded in 1941. During World War II, Northwest joined the war effort by flying military equipment and personnel from the continental United States to Alaska. During this time, Northwest began painting their aircraft tails red, as a visual aid in the often harsh weather conditions. This experience with the severe northern climate led the government to designate Northwest as the United States' main North Pacific carrier following the war.

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Great Circle route]], pioneered by Northwest
In the spring of 1947 Northwest began staffing its Tokyo base with company personnel, flying them on the Great Circle route in twin-engine Douglas DC-3 aircraft. On 15 July 1947, Northwest became the first airline to fly a commercial passenger flight from the U.S. to Japan[6], using The Manila, a Douglas DC-4 aircraft. The flight originated at Wold-Chamberlain Field (the predecessor of today's Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport), and made its way to Tokyo by way of Edmonton, Anchorage, and Shemya, in the Aleutian Islands. From Tokyo, the flight continued to Seoul, Shanghai, and Manila. Taipei replaced Shanghai after the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. With its new routes, the airline re-branded itself as Northwest Orient Airlines, although the legal name of the company remained Northwest Airlines.

Global expansion

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The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, 1949 promotion
On 1 August 1949, Northwest took delivery of its first double-deck Boeing 377 Stratocruisers, which allowed the airline to establish higher service standards and reduce flight time. They were used to fly the Tokyo route nonstop from Seattle, and – with one stop in Anchorage – from Chicago. In 1951, Northwest helped establish Japan Airlines by leasing its aircraft and crew to the new company. In 1952, under the U.S.-Japan bilateral aviation treaty, Northwest and Pan American were the two U.S. flag carriers awarded rights to fly not only from the U.S. to Japan, but to pick up and carry passengers beyond Japan. Northwest remains the largest non-Japanese carrier at Tokyo's Narita Airport, with flights to several cities in Asia including Seoul, Busan, Manila, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Singapore, Saipan and Guam. Northwest serves Taipei, Guam and Saipan from Osaka while Manila, Guam and Saipan are flown from Nagoya.

Northwest meteorologists pioneered the first clear-air turbulence forecasting system in 1957, important since the airline flew many northern routes over turbulence-prone mountain areas. Northwest remains a leader in turbulence prediction, providing TPAWS (turbulence prediction and warning services) to other airlines.[7]

On 1 June1959, Northwest took delivery of its first turboprop jet aircraft, the Lockheed L-188 Electra. On 8 July1960, Northwest put the Douglas DC-8 into service, offering the shortest flight times on routes to Asia. In August 1960, Northwest retired the last Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. The airline took delivery of the Boeing 720B in 1961, and in 1963, with the new Boeing 707, and the retirement of the last propeller aircraft, Northwest became the first U.S. airline with an all-turbofan jet fleet, hence the slogan "Northwest Orient: The Fan-Jet Airline". Northwest began operating the Boeing 727-151 in 1964.

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System map, February 1972
Northwest took delivery of its first Boeing 747-151 aircraft in 1970. The airline began retiring the older Boeing 707s, and using the newer 747s on high-density domestic routes, where the 727 lacked sufficient capacity.

Merger with Republic and the 1990s

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June 1986 Route Map, prior to Republic Airlines merger
After airline deregulation, Northwest began nonstop flights to other Asian cities, returned to China in 1984 after a 34 year hiatus, and gradually strengthened its presence in the southern United States. It also began flying to Britain, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. On 1 October 1986, Northwest purchased its competitor, Minneapolis-St. Paul-based Republic Airlines, and adopted its three-hub network centered around Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, and Memphis. Northwest dropped the word Orient from its brand name after the merger.

In 1989, Northwest introduced a new identity designed by Landor Associates superseding the 1970 logo and livery, which had been used since 1986, minus the word "Orient." A new livery, nicknamed the "bowling shoe" by employees, featuring colors of red, white, gray, and blue, was adopted at the same time.

1989 also saw major changes in ownership at the airline. Northwest was purchased in a 1989 leveraged buyout by an investment group headed by Al Checchi and Gary Wilson, KLM, and many others. To pay off the debt incurred in their takeover, the new management sold many of the airline's aircraft to leasing companies, and sold property around the world, including land in central Tokyo. The expense of the buyout was so great that in 1993, following several years of losses due to industry overcapacity and a traffic downturn following the Gulf War, Northwest threatened bankruptcy unless its employee groups agreed to three years of wage cuts. After signing the concessionary agreements, Northwest made its first profit since 1989. Also in 1993, Northwest began its strategic alliance with KLM, which was the largest airline partnership ever conceived at the time. This partnership eventually became the Wings Alliance. However, the alliance never grew beyond the two airlines, and is now obsolete from a passenger's perspective, because both airlines are part of the larger SkyTeam Alliance. (From a legal perspective, the Northwest/KLM alliance remains important: it has antitrust immunity, whereas the broader SkyTeam alliance merely has code sharing privileges.) Northwest gradually pulled out of its minor European destinations and once more focused its attention on the domestic and Asian markets. On 1 May 1996 Northwest began the first nonstop service from the U.S. to China, on the Detroit - Beijing route. Nonstop Detroit-Shanghai service followed in April 2000. Later, these nonstop services were suspended in 2002 due to the SARS epidemic. Northwest continues to serves these routes via Tokyo. The airline sought government approval to restore nonstop Detroit - Shanghai service in March 2007 but lost its bid to United's Washington, D.C. (Dulles)-Beijing route; however, Northwest recently received tenative authority to restart nonstop Detroit-Shanghai service starting March 25, 2009.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Northwest enjoyed profits and focused on improving technology to increase convenience while reducing costs. The airline has offered airport self-service check-in kiosks since 1997, and has more than any other airline. Northwest was also the first large U.S. airline to offer passengers Internet check-in, with service from December 2000. During the early 2000s, Northwest Airlines acquired a reputation of refusing to adopt industry-wide fare increases that had been accepted by other United States airlines. This changed in March 2005, when Northwest adopted fare hikes in response to rising oil prices.
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NWA logo, 1989-2003

Detroit blizzard, stranded passengers

On January 2, 1999, a heavy winter storm hit Northwest's hub in Detroit, seriously affecting flight operations. The blizzard dumped eighteen inches of snow on the airport, setting off a chain of events, caused by both human and environmental factors. Before it was over, some passengers had been stuck on board grounded aircraft up to 8½ hours.

Poor communication between Northwest, Wayne County (operators of the airport), and ATC resulted in arriving flights continuing to land despite deteriorating conditions. With area roads impassable, the majority of airport employees were not able to report to work. Snowdrifts covered the ramp, taxiways and runways. Aircraft parked overnight could not be moved away from the gate due to the snow accumulation, and arriving flights had nowhere to go. Many passengers were thereby trapped on board, and unable to disembark for many hours. Eventually employees working through the storm were able to begin the slow process of clearing snow, move aircraft off unused gates, and allowing the inbound flights to park.

An official inquiry found "... [the delays] were serious and indicate that this event had important implications for passenger safety. Moreover, even if the well being of passengers had not been an issue, the review team believes that the stranding of passengers on aircraft queued on taxiways for up to 8½ hours invites more serious problems and is simply unacceptable. None of the other airlines serving Detroit experienced ground delays approaching the magnitude of Northwest's delays."[8] Subsequently, passengers brought various legal claims against the carrier including false imprisonment and negligence and obtained a $1.7 million settlement.[9]

The problem of passengers stranded on aircraft during bad weather is a common problem among many U.S. airlines. This problem is exacerbated by the shortage of gates at some airports, the reluctance of airlines to ask other airlines (or other airlines to allow use of their gates) for temporary gate use, reluctance of airlines to use stairs to disembark passengers, etc. In late 2006 and early 2007, similar well-publicized incidents have occurred on other airlines, namely American Airlines in Austin and JetBlue in New York. However, the above mentioned Northwest incident is noteworthy because of the large monetary settlement.

September 11, 2001 aftermath and beyond

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747-200 in 1990s livery
Due to the effects of competition from low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and increased labor costs due to a new contract with employees represented by the AMFA labor union, Northwest began to make cutbacks in early 2001. Two small rounds of employee layoffs and other cutbacks were implemented in the months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Following the attacks, Northwest was forced to make major changes to its business structure through major employee layoffs and other cost cutting measures. The retirement of costly and aging aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 were accelerated as new aircraft went into service. In addition, the airline pursued options to reduce costs across the board, including removing pillows, peanuts, pretzels, in-flight entertainment on domestic flights, and newspapers and magazines. Also, over 50 McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Boeing 757, Boeing 747, and Airbus A320 family aircraft were withdrawn from use in an attempt to lower overall capacity and save money. Some of these aircraft have since been returned to service.

Following many years of a pioneering and close partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Northwest, along with partners KLM and Continental Airlines, joined the SkyTeam Alliance, a partnership of ten airlines from around the world, on 15 September 2004. This was partially a result of Air France acquiring KLM, forming the Air France-KLM group. The airline continued to hemorrhage money, however. In the spring of 2005, a media spectacle occurred when the news leaked that top executives in the company had been selling much of their stock. Subsequently, shareholders filed lawsuits against four top officials for insider trading, including Chairman Gary Wilson, CEO Doug Steenland, former director Al Checchi and former CFO Bernie Han.

Despite far-reaching money saving initiatives, Northwest was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the first time in its 79-year history. The filing took place in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on 14 September 2005. With Northwest's filing, four of the six largest U.S. carriers were operating under bankruptcy protection. Northwest joined Delta Air Lines (which filed just minutes before), United Airlines, and US Airways in bankruptcy. All four of these carriers have since emerged from bankruptcy protection. Northwest common stock shares dropped more than 50% for the second time in three days following the news, largely because stock is generally cancelled as part of the bankruptcy process. In the following weeks, Northwest Airlink carriers Mesaba Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines both announced that Northwest had missed payments to them for their Airlink flying. Northwest also announced plans to shrink its Airlink fleet by over 45 aircraft. Mesaba Aviation filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on October 132005. However, Northwest recently announced that it would once again increase capacity.

Northwest announced that on May 18, 2007 that shares of the company would begin to be traded on the NYSE under the ticker NWA. Initial trading on a "when-issued" basis began on May 21, 2007, and regular trading will begin on May 31, 2007. Also on May 18, 2007, Northwest Airlines was cleared by a federal bankruptcy judge to emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on May 31, 2007. It ended Northwest's 20 months of difficulty trying to slash costs, although it will still likely be an uphill battle, as labor unions who made large concessions will demand higher pay. [10]

On July 16, 2007, Northwest Airlines applied to the United States Department of Transportation for nonstop service between its WorldGateway hub at Detroit to Shanghai (beginning in 2007 on Boeing 747-400s) and to Beijing (beginning in 2009 on Boeing 787 Dreamliners). The airline faced off against Delta Air Lines (who proposed Atlanta to Shanghai and Beiing), American Airlines (Chicago/O'Hare-Beijing), Continental Airlines (Newark-Shanghai), US Airways (Philadelphia-Beijing), United Airlines (Los Angeles-Shanghai and San Francisco-Guangzhou), and MAXjet (Seattle-Shanghai) in the route competition.

On August 12, 2007, Northwest Airlines became a possible passive investor in the purchase of Midwest Airlines by TPG Capital. They stated that while they are an investor, they will not participate in any management or control of Midwest Airlines.[11] However, on August 14, 2007, AirTran Airways raised their offer for Midwest to $16.25 a share, 25 cents more than the TPG offer.[12] But soon after on August 17, 2007, TPG Capital raised their offer to $17.00 a share which sealed the deal. Northwest Airlines will now become a minority owner of Midwest Airlines in the fourth quarter of 2007.[13]

On September 25, 2007, Northwest Airlines received DOT approval to begin service to Shanghai from their Detroit hub beginning March 25, 2009. American, Continental, Delta, and US Airways also received new or additional China route authority to Shanghai or Beijing, and United received authority to serve Guangzhou.

Labor relations

A recurring issue in Northwest's history is its troubled labor relations. In 1998, Northwest walked away from the bargaining table, locked out its pilots (represented by ALPA) and shut down the airline for more than two weeks. The airline sustained heavy losses as a result, and ended 1998 in the red, after being profitable since 1993.

On August 202005, after months of negotiations, an impasse declared by the NMB and a 30-day cooling off period, the over 4,750 Northwest aircraft mechanics, janitors, and aircraft cleaners represented by AMFA went on strike against the company. After numerous negotiation sessions, no agreement was reached, and the company began hiring permanent replacement workers. In mid-October, after permanently hiring about 500 non-union workers, Northwest made a final offer to the union. The offer would have saved only 500 union jobs and offered a mere four weeks of severance pay to terminated employees. This offer was significantly worse than the original declined by the union, which would have saved over 2,000 jobs and offered 16 weeks of severance pay. On 21 October2005, AMFA announced that it would not allow its members to vote on the offer, citing that parts of the contract would violate the union's commitment to its members. Finally, in late December 2005, Northwest made what it termed its "final offer" to the union. The agreement would have terminated all striking workers and given them rights to unemployment compensation. The union voted down the offer. On October 9, 2006, AMFA leadership and Northwest reached an agreement.[14] Under the settlement, all AMFA workers still on strike as of that date will be converted to lay-off status with 5 weeks of severance pay (10 weeks if they resign from Northwest). However, these employees will have a right of recall to their old jobs. Approval of the settlement was[15] on 6 November 2006.

On May 30, 2007, it was announced that the flight attendants narrowly agreed to concessions and became the last major work group at Northwest to agree to new contract terms. The deal was approved by a vote of 2,966 to 2,862. Union leaders said that 90.5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. The new contract provides Northwest with $195 million in annual cuts through 2011.

Negotiations with attendants had been ongoing and contentious for several years. The flight attendants were unable to strike during negotiations because of a court injunction and the refusal of the mediation board to release them from bargaining which would have allowed the setting of a strike deadline. The attendants had been working under imposed pay cuts and work rules since July of 2006 when a previous tentative agreement was rejected by 55 percent of the voting members.

Prior to the May 2007 agreement, union leaders had expressed concern that the defeat of the agreement could prompt the National Mediation Board to recess talks indefinitely resulting in the loss of a $182 million bankruptcy claim the attendants had against Northwest. With the new agreement, the $182 million claim will eventually be sold for cash with an estimated pre-tax value of $15,000 to $18,000 per flight attendant. Other labor unions at Northwest received similar claims as part of their concessionary agreements.

Previous to the recent agreements, Northwest provided employees with stock in exchange for concessions. For example, In 1993 Northwest's pilots, ground workers and flight attendants received stock and seats on the board of directors in exchange for pay cuts. As part of the agreement, Northwest was supposed to buy back these preferred shares in 2003 but refused to do so citing financial distress. Flight attendants, ground workers and mechanics still holding those preferred shares will now get shares of new Northwest stock (estimated at a combined value of $277 million).

In the summer of 2007 Northwest also had labor conflict with its pilots, over the large number of end of the month flight cancellations. The pilots claim that Northwest did not have the pilots to fly its schedule; Northwest accused the pilots of calling in sick to create the problem. This was resolved with a new agreement with ALPA in August 2007 in which pilots will be compensated for overtime. Northwest has also since begun hiring of new pilots to alleviate the pilot shortages they have faced throughout the summer of 2007.


Further information: Northwest Airlines destinations
Northwest primarily operates a hub and spoke route system with hubs in Amsterdam, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, and Tokyo. The Amsterdam hub primarily consists of service from the U.S. to that city with beyond flights operated by KLM. It operates a few routes outside the hub system, such as San Francisco-Honolulu. Indianapolis is served as a focus city with much, but not all, of the added service to non-hub cities through Northwest Airlink flights.

In recent years, Northwest has concentrated on flights to its hubs. However, as recently as the early 1990s, it operated more flights not involving hubs, such as Boston-Seattle and Los Angeles-Seattle. The Los Angeles-Seattle flight is currently being serviced by a codeshare flight from Alaska Airlines. In 1991, it began service to Australia, which had been abandoned by Continental a few years earlier after United and Qantas began non-stop flights to the continental U.S. using the newly introduced, long range 747-400, which Continental did not operate. Northwest served Sydney-Los Angeles, as well as Melbourne-Osaka-New York. The Melbourne flights raised Japanese protest because less than 30% of passengers on the Australia-Japan segment were originating in the U.S.[16]

In the mid-1980s, Northwest operated the only U.S. flag carrier service to Glasgow, Oslo, and Stockholm, as well as service to Copenhagen. However, this was later withdrawn after several years. From 2000 Northwest operated flights to Milan and Rome, both were later withdrawn (from 2003 to 2005 Rome was served only during the summer season). From 1996 until 2002, Northwest operated nonstop flights from its Detroit hub to Beijing and Shanghai. Eventually, these routes were suspended. Northwest currently operates these routes from Detroit with a connection at its Tokyo-Narita hub. However, on July 16, 2007, Northwest applied with the US Department of Transportation for nonstop service between Detroit and both Beijing and Shanghai. [17] On September 25, 2007, the US Department of Transportation tentatively awarded authority to Northwest for a new Detroit to Shanghai (Pudong) route effective beginning March 25, 2009. The route will be flown using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.


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Boeing 747-400 at PDX; used primarily on U.S. - Asia routes
Northwest is in the midst of a major long-haul fleet renewal program. As part of this program, Northwest introduced a simplified new paint scheme and logo in 2003. The airline has replaced its McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft with the Airbus A330 and will soon introduce the new Boeing 787 into their fleet. The first Airbus A330-300, used on European flights, arrived on August 6, 2003. Northwest also operates the longer range and slightly shorter A330-200 on some trans-Pacific markets, within the Far East, and on some transatlantic routes. Northwest's last DC-10 flight arrived in Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport the morning of January 8, 2007 after completing a flight from Honolulu International Airport.[18] The last Northwest Airlines DC-10 commercial flight across the Atlantic took place on October 29, 2006, from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.[19] The majority of Northwest Airlines flights to and from Europe are operated by the Airbus A330, the largest operator of the type in the world. [20] The airline also offers the youngest transatlantic fleet of any North American and European airline. Northwest Airlines also began operating reconfigured Boeing 757-200 aircraft for European flights with fewer passengers. Northwest is one of only two passenger airlines in the United States to operate the Boeing 747-400, currently the largest commercial passenger transport in service, with the other being United Airlines. There are several cargo airlines in the United States operating 747s.

In the future, Northwest is looking for manufacturers to discuss the replacement of their 100 seat McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, of which some aircraft have been in service for over 40 years. They could possibly order aircraft from the Embraer 195 or the Airbus A320 family.[21] Although narrowbody aircraft may be a possible replacement, many industry analysts see that Northwest Airlines purchasing regional jets in an effort to save the airline money (i.e. Regional jet pilots are paid less than narrowbody pilots).[22]


The Northwest Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft as of September 2007:[23]
Northwest Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers
Routes Notes
Airbus A319-10057
(5 orders)
124 (16/108)Domestic short-medium haul
United States, Canada, Mexico
Airbus A320-20073
(2 orders)
148 (16/132)Domestic short-medium haul
United States, Canada, Mexico
Airbus A330-20011243 (32/211)International medium-long haul
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia, India
Largest Operator of Airbus A330
Airbus A330-30021298 (34/264)International medium-long haul
Transatlantic, transpacific, Honolulu
Largest Operator of Airbus A330
Boeing 747-40016403 (65/338)International long haul
Launch customer
Boeing 757-20055160 (16/144)
182 (20/162)
182 (22/160)
184 (22/162)
Domestic/international short-medium haul
North American, transatlantic, intra-Asia
Configured with winglets
New interiors[24]
Boeing 757-30016224 (24/200)Domestic medium-long haul
North American, U.S. west coast-Hawaii
Only of the kind to be ordered with Pratt & Whitney Engines.
Boeing 787-8(18 orders)
(50 options)
Transatlantic, transpacific, intra-Asia,
Detroit-Shanghai (beginning March 25, 2009)
Entry into service: Late 2008/Early 2009
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-3062100 (16/84)Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
Largest operator of the DC-9
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-4012110 (16/94)Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
The -40 was developed for SAS; entered service in 1968.
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-5033125 (16/109)Domestic short haul
United States, Canada
*First Class is offered on most domestic flights. World Business Class is offered on transatlantic/transpacific flights.


Northwest Airlines Retired Fleet
Aircraft Year Retired Replacement Notes
Boeing 747-1002000Boeing 747-400
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-402002Boeing 757-300
McDonnell Douglas MD-801999Airbus A320 FamilyAcquired during merger with Republic Airlines
Boeing 7272003Airbus A320 Family
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-102005Airbus A320 Family
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-302007Airbus A330 FamilySelling to ATA Airlines and Omni Air International
Boeing 747-2002007Airbus A330 Family2 retained for charter use

NWA Cargo

As of 2006, NWA Cargo is the largest cargo carrier among U.S. combination passenger and cargo airlines. NWA Cargo’s fleet of 14 dedicated Boeing 747 freighter aircraft fly from key cities throughout the United States and Asia and connect the carrier’s cargo hub in Anchorage, Alaska (Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport), facilitating the quick transfer of cargo between large cities on both sides of the Pacific. NWA Cargo also transports freight aboard the passenger fleet of Northwest Airlines to more than 250 cities worldwide.

NWA Cargo serves airports and routes not served by the passenger operation -- the only U.S. carrier to maintain a separate fleet and route network exclusively for cargo. Such cargo-only cities on NWA's route map include Wilmington, Ohio, and cargo only routes include Chicago, Illinois, to Anchorage, Alaska.


World Business Class

World Business Class is the equivalent of business class on Northwest Airlines' international flights. It is currently available on the Airbus A330, Boeing 747-400, and on select Boeing 757-200 aircraft. All seats have 60 inches of pitch and 176 degrees of recline. Passengers aboard this class receive complimentary meals and refreshments, including alcoholic beverages. All seats are equipped with a personal In-Flight-Entertainment (IFE) system, power-ports, a moveable reading light, a folding work table, and a swivel cocktail table.

Domestic First Class

Domestic First Class is offered on domestic flights. It is available on Airbus A319, A320, Boeing 757-200 (Domestic), 757-300 and DC-9 aircraft. Seats range from 19.5 to 21.5 inches wide, and have between 34 and 37 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive complimentary meals, refreshments, and alcohol.

International Economy Class

Economy Class is available on all international flights. Seats range from 17 to 17.5 inches wide, and have between 31 and 34 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive complimentary meals, snacks, as well as refreshments, however alcoholic beverages can be purchased for $5.00 with the exception of transatlantic flights where it is complimentary. Passengers aboard Airbus A330 aircraft also have a personal In-Flight-Entertainment (IFE) system located in the seat back in-front of them and passengers seated in rows 10-23 (A330-200) and rows 10-28 (A330-300) have a power-port located below their seat.

Domestic Economy Class

Economy Class is available on all domestic flights. Seats range from 17 to 17.5 inches wide, and have between 30 and 33 inches of pitch. Passengers aboard this class receive complimentary refreshments, however smartsnack boxes, sandwiches (on select flights), and light snacks may be purchased for a nominal fee. Alcoholic beverages may be purchased for $5.00. Although only cash is currently accepted for onboard purchases, Northwest plans on offering cashless payments (credit/debit cards) for snacks and alcoholic beverages in the near future.


WorldPerks offers regular travelers the ability to obtain free tickets, First Class upgrades on flights, discounted membership for its airport lounges (WorldClubs), or other types of rewards. Customers accumulate miles from actual flight segments they fly or through Northwest's partners, such as car rental companies, hotels, credit cards, and other vendors. WorldPerks' elite tiers are Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum elite which allow for more mileage bonus, priority waitlists and standby and other benefits. Over the years, some details of the program have changed, such as introducing capacity controlled awards (only a certain number of seats are allocated for free travel), expiration of account if no activity occurs in three years, requirement of a Saturday night stay for domestic coach awards, waiving of capacity controls for awards but requiring double the amount of miles for redemption, and adding several partner airlines for mileage accumulation and award redemption.[25] The original name of the WorldPerks program was the Northwest Orient Airlines Free Flight Plan, which began in 1981.[26] The original program used paper coupons and gave credit for flight segments, much like the current Southwest Airlines program. Upon renaming the program to "WorldPerks", a mileage based system was begun.

In addition to its Northwest Airlink and SkyTeam alliance partnerships, Northwest offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following airlines:[27]
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Artist's rendering of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft is scheduled to enter into service in 2008.

Northwest also offers frequent flyer partnerships with the following car rental agencies:[28]


WorldClubs is Northwest's member lounge. Members have reciprocal access to a number of other clubs, including fellow SkyTeam carriers such as Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Air France. Northwest also has partnerships with various other airline lounges on an airport-by-airport basis. Unlike some other airline lounges, WorldClubs offer complimentary alcoholic beverages in domestic locations and Tokyo-Narita. Northwest also offers free Wi-Fi internet access world-wide. Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines are the only airlines in the United States that offer lifetime memberships in their airport lounge programs, something that currently costs non-elite members $4,690.[29]


The following locations are Northwest Airlines WorldClub locations:
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Northwest WorldClub
Northwest Airlines WorldClub members are allowed to use partner clubs, which offer more clubs in more locations.[30]

Codeshare agreements

Northwest Airlines has codeshare agreements with the following airlines as of May 2007:

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Northwest Airlines alliance and codeshare partner, KLM.

Incidents and accidents

Fatal accidents

Non-fatal accidents and incidents



1. ^ [2]
2. ^ Scheduled Passenger miles Flown
3. ^ Scheduled Freight Tonne - Kilometres Flown
4. ^ Northwest Airlines Becomes Minority Owner of Midwest Airlines (Midwest Airlines Official Press Release: August 17, 2007)
5. ^ Parcel Post
6. ^ First Commercial Flight from U.S. to Japan: July 15, 1947 (Northwest Airlines Website)
7. ^ Northwest Airlines is a Leader in Turbulence Prediction (Post Gazette: May 3, 2005)
8. ^ Passengers Stranded on Northwest Airlines Aircraft in 1999 (DOT: January 5, 1999)
9. ^ Tension on a crowded plane nears the breaking point as it festers, snowbound, Wall Street Journal
10. ^ [3]
11. ^ Northwest Airlines To Become Passive Investor of Midwest Airlines (Official Press Release: August 13, 2007)
12. ^ Northwest Airlines and TPG Bid Now In Competition with AirTran Airways (USA Today: August 14, 2007)
13. ^ Northwest Airlines Becomes Minority Owner of Midwest Airlines (Midwest Airlines Official Press Release: August 17, 2007)
14. ^ Strike settlement agreement
15. ^ Northwest Airlines Strike Settlement Approved (November 6, 2006)
16. ^ Northwest Airlines Route to Australia
17. ^ Northwest Airlines Announces Bid For U.S.-China Nonstop Service
18. ^ Northwest Airlines DC-10 Retirement Program (Official Press Release: June 28, 2006)
19. ^ Northwest Airlines DC-10 Trans-Atlantic Schedule Ends (Official Press Release: October 30, 2006)
20. ^ Northwest Airlines Becomes Largest Airbus A330 Operator In The World(Offical Press Release: October 18, 2007)
21. ^ Northwest Airlines Discusses Future DC-9 Replacement (Official Press Release: October 5, 2006)
22. ^ Northwest Airlines Begin Receiving Regional Jet Orders (Star Tribune: July 10, 2007)
23. ^ Northwest Airlines Corporate Fleet Information
24. ^ Northwest Airlines European Expansion (Official Press Release: October 11, 2006)
25. ^ Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Program Information
26. ^ Northwest Orient Free Flight Plan
27. ^ Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Airline Partnerships
28. ^ Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Car Rental Partnerships
29. ^ Northwest Airlines WorldClub Information
30. ^ [ WorldClubs® Location Directory]
31. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Douglas C-54G-1-DO NC95422 - Mt. Sanford, AK
32. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Douglas DC-4 N95425 - Benton Harbour, MI [Lake Michigan]
33. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 N312RC - Detroit-Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, MI (DTW)
34. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Douglas DC-9-14 N3313L - Detroit-Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, MI (DTW)
35. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Boeing 727-251 N278US - Detroit-Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, MI (DTW)
36. ^ Landing Gear Jam Halts Northwest Airlines Flight At MSP (WCCO News: May 6, 2006)
37. ^ Dutch arrest 12 in flight alert
38. ^ Northwest Airlines London Passengers Stranded For Hours In Duluth(WCCO News: September 3, 2006)
39. ^ Northwest Plane Lands After Smoke Fills Cabin (WCCO News: November 10, 2006)
40. ^ Plane Slips off Runway at Mitchell International (WISN The Milwaukee Channel: January 21, 2007)
41. ^ Northwest Plane Damaged During Towing in Twin Cities (AMT: February 8, 2007)
42. ^ Northwest Flight Makes Emergency Landing in Buffalo (WSYR 9 News: May 18, 2007)
43. ^ Warning signal forces cargo plane to land (The Winnipeg Free Press Online Edition: June 19, 2007)
44. ^ Bomb Threat Forces Jet Back To Sea-Tac (KIRO-TV: July 25, 2007)

External links

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation
A list of all Airline codes. The table lists the IATA airline designators, the ICAO airline designators and the airline call signs (telephony designator). Historical assignments are also included for completeness.
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A list of all Airline codes. The table lists the IATA airline designators, the ICAO airline designators and the airline call signs (telephony designator). Historical assignments are also included for completeness.
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A list of all Airline codes. The table lists the IATA airline designators, the ICAO airline designators and the airline call signs (telephony designator). Historical assignments are also included for completeness.
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An airline hub is an airport that an airline uses as a transfer point to get passengers to their intended destination. It is part of a hub and spoke model, where travelers moving between airports not served by direct flights change planes en route to their destinations.
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Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (IATA: DTW, ICAO: KDTW), sometimes called Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Detroit Metro Wayne Airport, Metro Airport, or simply DTW, is a major airport in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
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Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP, ICAO: KMSP) is the largest and busiest airport in the five-state upper Midwestern region of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
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Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEM, ICAO: KMEM) is a public airport located 3 miles (5 km) south of the city of Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee, USA.
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Narita International Airport (成田国際空港
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Schiphol (IATA: AMS, ICAO: EHAM) (municipality Haarlemmermeer) is the Netherlands' main airport. Located 20 minutes (17.5 km) south-west of Amsterdam, Schiphol is a European mainport, competing in passenger and cargo throughput with Heathrow International Airport
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In the airline industry, a focus city is a location that is not a hub, but from which the airline has non-stop flights to several destinations other than its hubs. For example, Northwest Airlines had focus city operations at Indianapolis, serving 17 non-hub destinations
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Indianapolis International Airport (IATA: IND, ICAO: KIND, FAA LID: IND) is a public airport located seven miles (11 km) southwest of the central business district of Indianapolis, a city in Marion County, Indiana, United States.
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Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNL, ICAO: PHNL) is the principal aviation gateway of the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii and is identified as one of the busiest airports in the United States.
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frequent flyer program (FFP) is a service offered by many airlines to reward customer loyalty. Typically, airline customers enrolled in the program accrue points corresponding to the distance flown on that airline.
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airport lounge is a lounge owned by a particular airline (or jointly operated by several carriers). Many offer private meeting rooms, phone, fax, wireless and internet access and other business services, along with provisions to enhance comfort such as free drinks and snacks.
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An airline alliance is an agreement between two or more airlines to cooperate for the foreseeable future on a substantial level. The degree of cooperation differs between alliances. The three largest alliances are the Star Alliance, SkyTeam and OneWorld.
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SkyTeam is the second largest airline alliance in the world — behind Star Alliance — partnering thirteen carriers from four continents, with three pending members.
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A subsidiary, in business, is an entity that is controlled by another entity. The controlled entity is called a company, corporation, or limited liability company, and the controlling entity is called its parent (or the parent company).
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CPZ Callsign
Founded 2006
Hubs Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Memphis International Airport
Frequent flyer program WorldPerks
Member lounge WorldClubs
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MES Callsign
Founded 1944
Frequent flyer program WorldPerks
Member lounge WorldClubs
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 57 (+29 Orders)
Destinations 64
Parent company Northwest Airlines

Headquarters Eagan, Minnesota
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Eagan, Minnesota
The 1914 Town Hall

Location in Dakota County and the state of Minnesota.
Country United States
State Minnesota
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Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or chief executive, is the highest-ranking corporate officer, administrator, corporate administrator, executive, or executive officer, in charge of total management of a corporation, company, organization or agency.
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New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), nicknamed the "Big Board", is a New York City-based stock exchange. It is the largest stock exchange in the world by dollar volume and, with 2,764 listed securities[1], has the second most securities of all stock exchanges.
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"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
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airline provides air transport services for passengers or freight, generally with a recognized operating certificate or license. Airlines lease or own their aircraft with which to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for mutual benefit.
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Eagan, Minnesota
The 1914 Town Hall

Location in Dakota County and the state of Minnesota.
Country United States
State Minnesota
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Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP, ICAO: KMSP) is the largest and busiest airport in the five-state upper Midwestern region of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
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"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
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An airline hub is an airport that an airline uses as a transfer point to get passengers to their intended destination. It is part of a hub and spoke model, where travelers moving between airports not served by direct flights change planes en route to their destinations.
..... Click the link for more information.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (IATA: DTW, ICAO: KDTW), sometimes called Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Detroit Metro Wayne Airport, Metro Airport, or simply DTW, is a major airport in Romulus, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
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Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (IATA: MSP, ICAO: KMSP) is the largest and busiest airport in the five-state upper Midwestern region of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
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