Northwest Airlines and its regional carriers will cut 38 flights from their Twin Cities schedule starting Oct. 31.
The airline had already been shrinking its schedule this year, but the Oct. 31 reductions are the first since Eagan-based Northwest sought bankruptcy protection last month.
Northwest and its regional partners will still operate 471 flights a day from Minneapolis-St. Paul in November. In the same month in 2004, though, the carriers had 547 flights out of the Twin Cities.
Last week, as it started to flesh out how it will reorganize itself during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Northwest disclosed it would cut its domestic flying by 10 percent this quarter. It did not specify how it would trim back its flying until it released its schedule on Saturday.
"What we got was a minor schedule reduction Â— no wholesale cancellations," said CheapSeats.com travel expert Terry Trippler.
With the schedule change, one city, Birmingham, Ala., will lose nonstop service from the Twin Cities. Northwest will service Birmingham via Detroit and Memphis.
From the Twin Cities, Northwest will drop one flight a day to 33 cities, including St. Louis, Miami and Memphis, Tenn. The airline will cut two flights a day to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Madison, Wis.
Many of the 35 cities will still have two or more daily round-trip flights from the Twin cities, though.
Most of the dropped flights Â— 34 Â— were on regional jets flown by Mesaba or Pinnacle. Those planes have 44, 50 or 69 seats.
At this time, there is no change in the frequency of service from the Twin Cities to most markets, including Boston, Los Angles, Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago.
"Many markets we serve will see no change in the number of flights offered with this schedule," said Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch. "Our November schedule provides the markets we serve with broad time-of-day coverage, while judiciously and responsibly reducing capacity."
While its domestic flying drops in the quarter, Northwest says its regional carriers, Mesaba and Pinnacle, will fly 2 percent more.
In Detroit, Northwest and its regional airlines will cut 27 flights, leaving that city with 524 daily flights. Memphis loses two flights, leaving it with 225 a day. Milwaukee will have 24 after losing 11; Indianapolis, 42 after losing seven.
Northwest had announced some cutbacks in its international schedule, including its Twin Cities-London service.
Several airlines, including Northwest, have cut their schedules, or say they will, because of soaring fuel prices. With Northwest and Delta, they're also reworking their schedules as part of their bankruptcy reorganizations.
"Northwest seems to have a better grasp on what it's doing than Delta does," said Trippler. "Delta raises fares and announces a sale at the same time. Northwest is making the adjustments they have to."
In other developments Tuesday, Northwest said September passenger traffic rose 4.5 percent as the company added 2.1 percent more capacity.
The airline posted 6.01 billion revenue passenger miles in September. A revenue passenger mile equals one paying passenger flown one mile. Passengers flown rose to 4.4 million, up from 4.3 million in September 2004.
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Its schedule had been shrinking but these are the first reductions since it declared bankruptcy.
Mesaba Aviation, which relies on ties to Northwest Airlines for its planes, passengers and revenue, can thank the relationship for something else: a trip to bankruptcy court.
About 1,000 pilots, flight attendants and mechanics are covered by the contracts, which took nearly a year to reach and brought the unions to the brink of a strike.
Unable to reach negotiated deals with key unions to slash labor costs, Eagan-based Mesaba Airlines today begins trying to convince U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gregory Kishel to reject their contracts.