An Oxymoron For The Fifth Largest US Carrier?
It wasn't easy being
Northwest this past week, when crew shortages forced cancellation
of 12 percent of its schedule, as ANN reported.
And although operations were back to normal this weekend,
Northwest plans to cut flights and perhaps hire more pilots to
prevent future pilot shortages, reported Bloomberg Friday.
Northwest "will initiate new pilot hiring, if necessary" after
recalling the rest of the pilots still on furlough.
The airline will drop a daily flight to Germany beginning July
18, while trimming domestic flying by 3 percent in August,
accounting for 90 hours a day in August, representing about 40
flights, based on the carrier's average daily schedule according to
Bloomberg, to increase the reserve of pilot hours.
The pilots' union contract limits them to 90 hours of flying a
month; federal law permits only 10 hours of overtime beyond that.
Storms and other delays eat into that time.
There was "no official or unofficial" action by pilots to call
in sick, and many flight crews simply used up their allowed hours,
Captain Monty Montgomery, spokesman for Northwest's chapter of the
ALPA, said last week.
Northwest said other changes include a shift in how pilots'
trips are scheduled, "especially to and from large East Coast
According to Northwest,
"This will minimize the impact to the airline's flying schedule
when bad weather" and air-traffic-control delays occur. Storms in
one city often have a domino effect around the country if crews are
stranded out of position for their next flights.
Northwest will cancel the second daily flight between Detroit
and Frankfurt in July to free those pilots for other routes; the
flight was a seasonal addition that began May 7 and was due to end
October 27, spokesman Roman Blahoski said.
The airline cancelled 31 flights Friday, 2 percent of its
schedule, according to FlightStats, the lowest rate this
"I'm still concerned that this won't solve the problem," Montgomery
said of the airline's changes.
The union says Northwest lacks enough pilots after its
bankruptcy reorganization, from which it emerged May 31. The union
said talks began with management on June 27 to address the staffing
According to Montgomery, Northwest needs about 500 extra pilots
to handle normal operations beyond the 4,851 who are now flying.
The carrier has 396 pilots on furlough after calling 326 back to
work last year, according to union figures.