General, I don't know about your scope, but I do believe that the only reason they kept 9 717s was to keep from having a complete meltdown over at Midwest among the current pilots. Once the E-170s come online, it will be easy to displace those 717s where ever the decision makers want to displace them. I also believe they are doing this to keep the Midwest name in place until the merger between Northwest and Delta are complete. Once Delta has completed their merger and Midwest has acquired their certificate and E-170s, the Midwest and Midwest Connect brand will be changed to Delta connection and the remaining 717s will be sent packing back to Boeing. This will then create another regional feed for Delta out of Milwaukee. Smart move by Delta and Northwest. A $60 million dollar investment through Republic to keep Midwest alive and find an airplane that AirTran will have a hard time competing with in Milwaukee. Keep Midwest alive so AirTran is not able to establish a hub in Milwaukee. Keep Midwest alive long enough to create a regional feed that will eventually feed to the worlds largest airline and complete route structure, smart move...CHECKMATE!The only time it could become a "Delta Connection" carrier would be when any plane over 76 seats is gone. That means all of the 717s. If you then add the 12 E170s to the ticket, the amount of 76 seaters the new Delta would operate would get very close to the limit. There is a limit even on 76 seaters, and the merger of DL and NWA actually made the limit tighter, since both Majors already had a stream of them coming online, and a merger gets closer to that magical number. As far as the 717s go, I wouldn't be surprised if NWA goes after the 717s for a DC9 replacement. Remember, our certificates won't be merged for 12 months or so after the date of corporate closing, and Midwest is returning 16 of them at the end of this year. It will be interesting indeed. Sorry to the Midwest pilots.
Bye Bye--General Lee