Carrier Flew All Its Scheduled Flights For 12 Days In
What a difference adequate staffing
can make. After struggling with an atrocious rate of flight delays
and cancellations through the summer, Northwest Airlines rebounded
nicely in September... setting a new record of 12 days without a
The Detroit News reports that figure breaks the carrier's
earlier monthly record, set in May 2003 with six perfect days. The
carrier operates roughly 1,300 flights a day, and typically
averages a cancellation rate of 1-2 percent per day.
It wasn't long ago those numbers seemed all-but unattainable for
the Eagan, MN-based airline. As ANN reported, Northwest
was hit with a spate of cancellations through June and July --
brought about by scheduling conflicts and crew shortages.
The carrier blamed absent pilots for its problems; pilots
replied cuts in personnel at the carrier -- intended to add to
profits -- pushed pilots to fly up to their monthly legal limits
well before the month was over, with not enough reserve staff to
pick up the slack. Those pilots were also disinclined to work
overtime to help out, union reps said, given the pay cuts they took
while the carrier was in bankruptcy... and the bonuses CEO Doug
Steenland pocketed this year.
It would be overly optimistic to call current relations between
Northwest's pilots and management "amicable"... but things are at
least more civil. Northwest and its pilots' union agreed to changes in work rules, overtime
pay and hiring in August; the carrier also cut
capacity somewhat, to compensate for a lack of pilots.
While 12 days in a row without a cancellation is an impressive
figure for such a large airline, more so is the fact Northwest is
on track to end 2007 with the highest number of "perfect" days in
As of press time, the carrier had equaled its best 100 percent
completion factor, also set back in 2003, at 17 days flying ALL of
Also noteworthy is the fact Northwest completed 99.7 percent of
its mainline passenger flights in September... the highest number
of completions seen by the airline in some time.
Which means, at least for the moment, that if you have a ticket
on Northwest... you probably will make it to your destination.