"It is much cheaper to hire local flight attendants based in Taipei than it is to staff flights with U.S. flight attendants," he said. "Northwest has to do it if it's to remain competitive with Singapore Airlines, a whole slew of mainland Chinese airlines and other (Asian) carriers. They have to get their cabin costs down."
Last October, the Bangkok Post reported that JALways, a tourist-oriented subsidiary of Japan Airlines, hires only Japanese or Thai women as flight attendants.
Most 53 percent are Thai, the Post said. The airline was poised, the paper reported, to open a new round of recruitment for Thai cabin attendants, aged between 20 and 26. First-year Thai JALways cabin attendants earn around 50,000 baht a month, the Post said. That's about $1,200 U.S.
As far as flight attendant staffing on planes with 100 or fewer seats, Boyd expects that's part of a Northwest effort to shift all such flying to its regional carriers, Mesaba and Pinnacle airlines, which employ lower-paid pilots and flight attendants. Currently the largest plane either one flies has 69 seats.
As of June 30, Northwest had 99 100-seat DC9-30s in its mainline fleet, along with 342 jets with 110 to 403 seats.