Northwest Airlines to cut mainline capacity 8.5 - 9.5 percent in 4Q


San Francisco (Thomson Financial) - Northwest Airlines Corp. late Tuesday said high fuel prices will force it to cut mainline capacity by 8.5% to 9.5% in the fourth quarter.

The cuts include reductions announced in April, the Eagan, Minn.-based airline said. It will trim domestic consolidated capacity, including regionals, by 7% to 8% and system consolidated capacity, including regionals and international, by 3% to 4%.

Northwest will also look to voluntarily retirements as it finalizes employee headcount reductions. It will remove 14 B747s and Airbus narrow-body craft from its fleet. The company also plans to crop its 94-aircraft DC-9 fleet to 61 planes by the end of this year and has accelerated the retirement of three freighter aircraft from its cargo operation.

The airline doesn't plan to cancel service at any domestic stations. In a prepared statement the company's chief executive, Doug Steenland, said the high cost of fuel strengthens the case for a merger with Delta Air Lines Inc. Northwest shares closed the regular session up 18 cents at $6.78.

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