Northwest Airlines On-time Performance Drops to 50 Percent Over Weekend, Independent Business Travel Expert Reports

Laconia, NH, Aug. 22, 2005 (Business Wire) -- During the first weekend of a mechanics' strike, Northwest Airlines' on-time performance fell to about 50 percent, according to figures reported in, an independent online publication for business travelers edited by Joe Brancatelli, former editor of business travel publication The Frequent Flier. This compares with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figure of 78 percent for Northwest's average on-time performance over the first six months of 2005 (

Brancatelli's tracking of 99 randomly chosen Northwest U.S. and Canadian flights each day yielded an average 46.5 percent on-time performance for Saturday and 53.5 percent on Sunday, or an average of about 50 percent for the two-day period. His information source for actual-versus-scheduled departure and arrival times was Northwest's website ( The average delay on Saturday was one hour and eleven minutes. On Sunday, it was one hour and six minutes. There were two cancellations on Saturday and three on Sunday. The Northwest website attributed many of the delays to "scheduled maintenance" and "non-scheduled maintenance."

"Northwest Airlines has promised investors and travelers that the airline would maintain their normal on-time record during the strike. They are under extraordinary pressure to keep that promise, even if it means misrepresenting the facts as reported on their own website," said O.V. Delle-Femine, national director of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). Northwest is claiming that its on-time performance was normal over the weekend.

"Northwest's current problems with delays and cancellations are going to get much worse through the rest of August, as understaffed and under-trained replacement mechanics fall further behind and as delays cause flight crews to reach their legal limits for on-duty time," Delle-Femine predicted. About 1,500 replacement workers are attempting to do the work of 4,500 AMFA members.

Another factor that will make it more difficult for Northwest to maintain a normal flight schedule is the shortage of FAA inspectors assigned to monitor the replacement workers. According to Jim Pratt, a national officer with PASS, the FAA inspectors' union, "13 FAA airworthiness inspectors have been assigned for the entire world system of Northwest, for the hundreds of locations where Northwest is going to do maintenance. I hardly think this qualifies as 'close monitoring.'" Even when you add the two FAA avionics inspectors assigned to the Northwest system, the total is only 15 inspectors worldwide. The FAA had said it would assign enough inspectors to "closely monitor" the replacement workers.

AMFA's craft union represents aircraft maintenance technicians and related support personnel at Alaska Airlines, ATA, Horizon Air, Independence Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. AMFA's credo is "Safety in the air begins with quality maintenance on the ground." To learn more about AMFA, visit