Northwest Trims One of Three Flights from W-B/Scranton Airport

PITTSTON TWP. -- Northwest Airlines will cut one of three flights from its schedule at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport this week in a move unrelated to the airlines recent bankruptcy filing.

Northwest will discontinue Flight 3001 to Detroit after Friday, said Kurt Ebenhoch, a Northwest spokesman.

It is a reduction but for a different reason, Ebenhoch said Tuesday.

The St. Paul, Minn.-based Northwest filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 14, citing heavy debt and rising fuel costs among the reasons.

Ebenhoch said the decision to cancel the local flight was made months earlier, during the summer.

It was not meeting our projections, he said. Mesaba Airlines Inc., a regional carrier for Northwest, operates the flight that departs the airport at 12:20 p.m. weekdays aboard a 33-seat turboprop airplane.

Airport Director Barry Centini confirmed the cancellation.

Northwest still has two scheduled daily flights aboard 50-seat regional jets to Detroit through its affiliate Pinnacle Airlines Corp.

The airport sought service from Northwest for years. Daily non-stop, round-trip flights to the airlines hub in Detroit began in April.

Whether Northwest plans further changes of its schedule for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton because of the bankruptcy could become clear next month. Ebenhoch said the airline will publish its new schedule later in October.

Pinnacle, based in Memphis, and Mesaba of Eagan, Minn., said Northwest plans to cut back the services of the regional carriers that fly under the Northwest Airlink name.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Pinnacle said Northwest asked it to remove 15 regional jets from service by Oct. 31. The reduction will leave Pinnacle with excess staff that could be reduced through attrition and voluntary leaves by employees. However, it is also possible the company might be forced to layoff employees if not enough leave voluntarily.

Mesaba said last week a decision by Northwest to cancel leases for 35 regional jets will cut Mesabas fleet by one third.