Airport board OKs $239 million break for NWA

July 26, 2007
MSP deal includes rent rebates, concession revenue sharing

The board that oversees the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport today gave its final approval for a $239 million financial-aid package to Northwest Airlines with a lone vote against the plan. The Metropolitan Airports Commission voted 8-to-1 in favor of the 15-year deal that includes reduced rent rebates and concession revenue sharing for Northwest. It requires Northwest to keep its hub and headquarters in the Twin Cities and calls for it cooperate with the MAC in resolving current noise litigation in Hennepin County. The plan also calls for $39 million in reduced rates and shared concession revenue for other airlines operating at the airport. MAC Commissioner Daniel Boivin was the lone vote against the plan. He said today that he opposed a provision to extend Northwest's airport lease on the airport's concourse G by five years to 2020 because it allows the airline "to keep their fortress hub here longer" at the expense of attracting new competition. Northwest Airlines' spokesman Roman Blahoski said that the carrier was pleased with the MAC vote. "This decision will allow the airline to continue to offer Twin Cities passengers unmatched air service to destinations throughout the U.S. and across the globe," he said. The MAC feared that Eagan-based Northwest would default on its airport leases and an outstanding $268 million loan in bankruptcy. Northwest is the dominant airline at the airport. The hub and headquarters condition was added to the package after some MAC commissioners voiced concerns about how the airport's finances would be affected by a possible merger involving Northwest or the possible loss of Northwest's hub here. The airline has been operating in bankruptcy protection for the past 20 months and has been the subject or merger speculation. Northwest plans to emerge from bankruptcy next month. Sheryl Jean can be reached at or 651-228-5576.