Delta to adjust fleet quickly after NWA dealWithin months of Delta’s buyout of Northwest, the airline will begin shifting its planes around to put them on the right routes, a Delta executive said on Wednesday.
By: By Joshua Freed, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
MINNEAPOLIS — Within months of Delta’s buyout of Northwest, the airline will begin shifting its planes around to put them on the right routes, a Delta executive said on Wednesday.
The two fleets will operate separately until after the federal government signs off on a joint operating certificate, which could take much of next year. But they don’t have to wait that long to shift planes to different routes, with the potential for Northwest 747s to fly out of Atlanta, for instance.
“We can move our planes around as soon as the merger is complete,” said Joanne Smith, Delta Air Lines Inc.’s senior vice president of in-flight service, speaking at a breast cancer fundraiser at a Northwest Airlines Corp. hangar on Wednesday.
The airlines hope to close the deal by the end of this year. Smith said they expect to begin shifting planes during the second quarter, which runs through the end of June 2009.
Northwest and Delta have only the Boeing 757 in common. Beyond that, their mainline fleet is a stew of Northwest’s 100 to 125-seat DC-9s up to its 747s. Delta’s fleet, meanwhile, includes the 767, with 287 seats.
Initially, the crews will follow the airplane. So if Northwest’s 747s move to Atlanta, 747 flight attendants based at Northwest hubs could be forced to commute. That’s because the Federal Aviation Ad-ministration requires them to be trained on the particular plane on which they’re working.
Smith said Delta will try to minimize the disruption, adding, “Moving flight attendants to fly the airplane in this industry is not unusual.”
Delta executives have said they believe they can get $2 billion in cost savings by joining the airlines. Matching the right planes to the right routes is an important part of that savings, Smith said.
“We’ve got to do that. It’s in everybody’s best interest,” she said.
The airlines will also be making their food offerings the same. So does that mean Delta coach customers will have to give up their free snack, or will Northwest travelers again get one for free?
“You know, I think I know the answer, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t shared that yet,” said Julie Showers, Northwest’s senior vice president for in-flight services.
Last week shareholders at both companies ap-proved the stock swap. The main remaining hurdles are antitrust clearance by the Department of Justice, and a lawsuit seeking to stop the deal which is set for trial Nov. 5 in San Francisco.