Northwest Airlines hopes smaller planes will mean bigger savings

vprMatrix

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Monday, August 18, 2008
NWA big on smaller planes to save money
76-seat jets taking routes to Boston, Atlanta
Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News

ROMULUS -- Northwest Airlines Corp. is betting big on smaller airplanes.

Looking to cut domestic seating capacity by up to 9.5 percent beginning in October to slash its hefty jet fuel bill, Michigan's largest air carrier is finding that many of its longtime workhorses -- the DC-9 and Boeing 757 to name two -- have too many seats and burn too much fuel in today's world of fewer passengers paying more money to fly.

So the airline is downsizing not only its flights schedules, but some of the planes it flies.

These new smaller jets -- the Embraer 175 and Bombardier CRJ-900 -- aren't just flying to small markets like Sioux City, Iowa, or Moline, Ill. They're also taking over for larger planes on some routes between Detroit and bigger cities like Atlanta, Boston and Minneapolis.

The smaller planes provide plusses for both the airlines and passengers.

"They're the perfect mix of efficient economics and passenger comfort," said John Bendoraitis, president of Compass Airlines, a wholly owned Northwest subsidiary that's currently operating 25 Embraer 175 jets under the Northwest Airlink moniker. "They have a bigger range, more amenities and are far more efficient than their predecessors."

The 76-seat Embraer and Bombardier jets -- with 12 first-class seats and 64 coach -- provide financial benefits for Northwest and other airlines using them:

• They mostly fly under the auspices of regional airline partners, which have lower labor costs.

• Advanced designs and newer engines make the new regional jets about 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the bigger airliners they're replacing.

• Fewer seats mean higher demand, which in turn means the airline can command higher fares. The first-class cabins, not common on older smaller plans, also bring in more revenue.

Another advantage: The smaller planes give passengers more choices, allowing airlines to service destinations that might not support a larger jet.

"These planes made service from Detroit to places like Vancouver and Monterrey possible," Bendoratis said. "They're perfect for the demand we have on those routes, and they're comfortable enough for passengers to enjoy their flight."

Passenger comfort is better on the Embraer and Bombardier jets than it is on smaller 50-seat regional jets or turboprop aircraft. Besides the first-class cabins, passengers have more leg room, full-size carry-on luggage bins and less-cramped cabins.
Delta adding small jets, too

Compass expects to operate 36 of the Embraer jets by the end of this year. Northwest's Mesaba Airlines subsidiary plans to eventually have 27 of the Bombardier aircraft in the air.

Officials at Delta Air Lines, which plans to merge with Northwest by the end of this year should the deal receive approval from federal regulators, said the new dual-class regional jets have been good for its business, as well.

Kate Marx, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Comair, said the Delta subsidiary already has 13 of the Bombardier aircraft in service, with another planned to start flying by the end of this year.

"They've proven to be very popular for our passengers out of the Cincinnati and New York hubs," she said.

Experts say that if fuel costs remain high for airlines, demand for better-equipped regional jets will stay strong.

Northwest CEO Doug Steenland told investors recently that the smaller jets will help the airline navigate today's turbulent financial environment.

"These jets are vital as the airlines have to pare down where they're flying and when," said Michael Boyd, president of The Boyd Group, a Colorado aviation consultancy. "They need efficient options that take the right number of people the right distance. These planes close what was once a big gap."

You can reach Nathan Hurst at (313) 222-2293 or nhurst@detnews.com
 

Tail Gunner Joe

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Welcome to 1997, Northwest Airlines.

(it only took you eleven years to discover SAABs and AVROs suck)
 

Voice Of Reason

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Interesting they waited until AFTER the pilot vote to come to this revelation...Seems contrary to what my buddies there were being told before now. It was all about cutting RJs, now this?
Wonder what else in their "bag of goods" they sold the pilots was bs? Hmm...
 

Raskal

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Remember folks, as someone else said in the regional forum, we're talking about the Detroit News here (my hometown paper), I wouldn't look here for anything factual.
 

Superpilot92

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Interesting they waited until AFTER the pilot vote to come to this revelation...Seems contrary to what my buddies there were being told before now. It was all about cutting RJs, now this?
Wonder what else in their "bag of goods" they sold the pilots was bs? Hmm...
Its a news article by some desk jockey in DTW. The scope language in the JCBA puts a cap on the growth at the regionals.
 

~~~^~~~

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Cap .. :laugh: , :puke:

As the Reps and the choir sing, "We'll get them next time."
 
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McNugget

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Look for more Embraers and CRJs, as older mainline equipment is phased-out.
 

~~~^~~~

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Interesting they waited until AFTER the pilot vote to come to this revelation...
Nope, this was announced two+ years ago when the airplanes were ordered and ALPA sanctioned the alter ego start up. I've been ranting about it ever since ....

Am I going to have to go find all my Steenland quotes again?
 
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jtf

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What is the cap for >50 seat aircraft not flown by mainline? Did it grow with the new agreement? I hope not, but it was obvious they wanted to replace the 9s with bigger RJs (Compass) and I hope this doesn't give all those jobs away.
 

~~~^~~~

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JTF:

I think the limit is 255 large (ahem) RJ's. To put this in perspective this is three fourth's the size of Northwest Airline's ENTIRE fleet. (255/348=73%) http://ir.nwa.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=111021&p=irol-fleet

The prior contracts were negotiated at the steps of the bankruptcy court and were highly concessionary. What the JPWA did is codify those concessionary agreements and facilitate their completion.

IMHO we had a great opportunity to return that flying to mainline before it even left the barn and we failed to even ask the question. We still have an opportunity via the SLI, but again, there is no indication we are even asking the question.
 
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Monster Buck

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JTF:

I think the limit is 255 large (ahem) RJ's. To put this in perspective this is three fourth's the size of Northwest Airline's ENTIRE fleet. (255/348=73%) http://ir.nwa.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=111021&p=irol-fleet

The prior contracts were negotiated at the steps of the bankruptcy court and were highly concessionary. What the JPWA did is codify those concessionary agreements and facilitate their completion.

IMHO we had a great opportunity to return that flying to mainline before it even left the barn and we failed to even ask the question. We still have an opportunity via the SLI, but again, there is no indication we are even asking the question.
Although the NEW DELTA(Delta+NWA) has apprx. 800 mainline AC.
 

Voice Of Reason

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Officials at Delta Air Lines, which plans to merge with Northwest by the end of this year should the deal receive approval from federal regulators, said the new dual-class regional jets have been good for its business, as well.


Northwest CEO Doug Steenland told investors recently that the smaller jets will help the airline navigate today's turbulent financial environment.
This reporter seems to be getting his info as he states above...is he lying?
 

General Lee

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We are parking quite a few 50 seaters too. LAX will lose all of the DAL Expressjet 50 seaters Sep 1st. Anderson said 100 or so 50 seaters would be parked this year alone. They could be replaced by some 76 seaters, but not all of them. That is good.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

Superpilot92

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Cap .. :laugh: , :puke:

As the Reps and the choir sing, "We'll get them next time."
For a guy who is so good at reading documentation why do you skip over the scope language thats in place now? I agree with you that it should be better but it IS in place. Why do you always pretend there isnt a cap?
 

MJ42

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We are parking quite a few 50 seaters too. LAX will lose all of the DAL Expressjet 50 seaters Sep 1st. Anderson said 100 or so 50 seaters would be parked this year alone. They could be replaced by some 76 seaters, but not all of them. That is good.


Bye Bye--General Lee
Exactly. There's a RA quote from last week that says the same thing. Quote is hanging on the "wailing wall" in DTW. He also stated the DC-9-40 and -50 will be around until at least 2012(depending on oil).

Also:

https://www.ajc.com/business/conten...8/09/deltafleethedline.html?cxntlid=inform_sr
 
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~~~^~~~

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For a guy who is so good at reading documentation why do you skip over the scope language thats in place now? I agree with you that it should be better but it IS in place. Why do you always pretend there isnt a cap?
Super, I acknowledge there is a cap, but it is not much of a restriction. Delta ordered 10 billion dollars worth (500) RJ's and every time the orders got near the "cap" the restriction was moved until it got where it is now. Our JPWA made permanent the concessionary scope our predecessors negotiated in the bankruptcy Court.

As Doug Steenland, Fred Reid and Leo Mullin all said, scope hasn't been a restriction on their ability to outsource narrow body domestic flying. My own Rep says scope is not important and does not work. As long as they make these kind of statements people like you and I have work to do - to try and get the majority of people involved and to try to get them to voice their opinions.

You and I agree that the right solution is to get this flying back by stapling it on the mainline list. One difference is that I've been writing and trying to inform people here on the subject for ten years now.

The current divide in our union that chips away at our jobs is a cancer. As many times as I have sworn to just let it go, it is too central to our profession and our union to just forget about.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I support my Reps and union. We just need more folks like you that tell their Reps that scope is important.
 
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Superpilot92

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Super, I acknowledge there is a cap, but it is not much of a restriction. Delta ordered 10 billion dollars worth (500) RJ's and every time the orders got near the "cap" the restriction was moved until it got where it is now. Our JPWA made permament the concessionary scope our predecessors negotiated in the bankruptcy Court.

As Doug Steenland, Fred Reid and Leo Mullin all said, scope hasn't been a restriction on their ability to outsource narrowbody domestic flying. My own Rep (who I fully support in negotiations) tells me that "scope doesn't work" and "isn't really important."

You and I agree that the right solution is to get this flying back by stapling it on the mainline list. One difference is that I've been writing and trying to inform people here on the subject for ten years now.
Not really a difference because i have been doing the same thing, just not for 10 years ;)
 
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