RJs First New Planes Since Chapter 11 Filing
In what Northwest
Airlines termed another major restructuring milestone, the carrier
announced Thursday orders from two manufacturers for a total of 72
new, two-class regional aircraft that will each accommodate 76
The airline announced that it placed firm orders for 36
Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet CRJ900s, and 36 Embraer 175s that
will equip allow Northwest to pursue growth opportunities in
important markets -- notably, in the Midwestern US -- and provide
Northwest with improved load factors and other aircraft
Northwest also received options for additional Bombardier and
Embraer 76-seat aircraft. Both aircraft types are powered by
General Electric CF34 engines.
"Today's orders are examples of the steady progress we are
making in our restructuring which is focused on resizing and
optimizing the Northwest fleet to better serve customers; realizing
competitive labor and non-labor costs; and restructuring and
recapitalizing the airline's balance sheet," said Doug Steenland,
Northwest president and chief executive.
"The aircraft purchases from Bombardier and Embraer allow us to
tailor our service to meet market demands while providing customers
with a comfortable and efficient flight experience on Northwest,"
Steenland continued. "Both new aircraft types will lower
Northwest's operating costs over the aircraft they replace such as
the Avro Regional Jet (ARJ) 85 through a combination of
significantly lower fuel consumption along with inherent
maintenance cost advantages."
The values of the orders were not disclosed.
Discussing the multiple orders, Neal Cohen, executive vice
president and chief financial officer, said, "Our Bombardier
purchase builds on a well-established, long-term relationship and
the Embraer order introduces another highly respected aircraft
product line to Northwest travelers."
Northwest says the new CRJ900 (above) and Embraer 175 (below)
aircraft will provide a best-in-class product experience for
Northwest Airlink customers. They both will be configured with 12
seats in first class, and 64 seats in coach class. The 12 first
class seats, arranged in a one seat-aisle-two seats configuration,
will have 36 inches of pitch, or space between rows. Coach class,
arranged in a two seats-aisle-two seats configuration, will have
pitch comparable to other aircraft in the airline's current
The CRJ900 has a range of nearly 1,400 miles (2,253 km) while
the Embraer 175 will eventually have a nonstop range of nearly
1,700 miles (2,735 km). Northwest expects to take initial delivery
of both aircraft in the second quarter of 2007.
Tim Griffin, executive vice president-marketing and
distribution, said, "The new aircraft are ideally suited to serve
Northwest's Heartland markets by connecting passengers through the
airline's Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis hubs to the
carrier's expansive domestic and international route network."
"In addition, the introduction of highly-efficient 76-seat
aircraft into the fleet will allow Northwest to offer new service
and develop markets where demand does not yet support service with
a 100-seat DC9-30, but exceeds what could be accommodated with a
50-seat Northwest Airlink CRJ200."
Discussing a future replacement for Northwest's DC-9s -- the
oldest fleet flying for a major US passenger airline -- Steenland
said, "We are continuing to meet with aircraft manufacturers to
review our requirements for a 100-seat aircraft that would replace
Northwest said that its regional subsidiary, Compass Airlines,
will operate the 36 Embraer 175s as Northwest Airlink. An Airlink
partner, to be determined at a later date, will operate the 36
In addition, as part of the agreement to order new CRJ900
aircraft, Bombardier, GECAS and Export Development Canada have
reached an agreement on restructuring the existing 126 CRJ200
aircraft fleet. This agreement includes the return of 15 previously
rejected CRJ200 aircraft back into the Northwest Airlink fleet.
This marks the completion of Northwest's CRJ fleet restructuring.
As a result, the Airlink fleet will total 141 aircraft.
The agreements are subject to the approval of the US Bankruptcy
Court for the Southern District of New York.