NWA shopping for more aircraft

Jun. 21--Northwest Airlines said today that it's talking with a number of aircraft manufacturers, including Bombardier, about buying planes to replace its McDonnell Douglass DC9s, the oldest jets in its fleet.

"Northwest Airlines continues to focus on a potential new 100-seat aircraft. As such, we are in conversation with all of the major aircraft manufacturers about which products can potentially best meet our needs going forward," company spokesman Roman Blahoski said. He said the Egan-based carrier is "very interested" in Bombardier's CSeries family of aircraft.

Blahoski declined to name the other manufactures.

Trade publication Air Transport World reported today that Dan McDonald, Northwest's vice president of finance and fleet planning, said at the Paris Air Show that the airline could order up to 60 of the CSeries, which would replace DC-9-30/-40/-50 aircraft. He told the publication that Northwest also has had discussions with aircraft maker Embraer about its 170/190 planes, which seat 70 to 98 people.

McDonald also told Air Transport World that Northwest wants to make a decision by the end of the year.

Overall, Northwest is spending more than $6 billion to revamp its fleet. It already has ordered 72 new 76-seat regional planes -- 36 Bombardier CRJ900s and 36 new Embraer 175s -- and 18 new Boeing 787 aircraft, which carry more than 200 passengers.

The airline took delivery of the first CRJ900 earlier this month. The first Embraer 175 arrives later this year and the first 787 arrives next year.

Northwest could be the launch customer for the CSeries aircraft, which seat 110 or 130 passengers. Bombardier has set a 2013 service start date for those planes.

Sheryl Jean can be reached at sjean@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5576.

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