As recently as January, Northwest said it would add 2 percent to 3 percent to its seating capacity. Last month, Chief Executive Doug Steenland said the airline was revisiting that plan because of high fuel costs, fare restructuring by competitors, and overcapacity in the domestic market. On Monday, Northwest said domestic capacity for the year will be flat.
The projection comes at a time when fuel prices are near all-time highs. Each $1 increase to a barrel of fuel costs Eagan-based Northwest $50 million a year, Steenland told employees in a message recorded Friday. He said Northwest has appointed a task force to explore ways to save money on fuel.
Northwest's announcement didn't project its international capacity.
Also Tuesday, UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, stood by its October plan to cut overall capacity by 3 percent by March, versus 2004 levels.
Spokesman Jeff Green said international capacity would increase by 14 percent and domestic capacity would drop by 12 percent in an effort to fit flights to market conditions.
United has cut 68 planes from its fleet since August, Green said. He said United hasn't removed any cities from its service schedule, but has shifted some to United Express, a unit that flies smaller jets operated by United's regional partners.
Northwest shares were down 5 cents to $7.02 Tuesday afternoon on the Nasdaq Stock Market.