Northwest Airlines said Tuesday that it cancelled over 10 percent of its flights over a four-day period, from this past Friday through Monday. A broadcast report said an estimated 825 Northwest flights had been cancelled.
In a statement, Northwest said it was "working to remedy the situation" and anticipated a return to their regular summer flying schedule. The airline had said previously it was short of pilot crews over the weekend in large part due to severe weather in early June.
Northwest did not accuse the pilots of a coordinated sick out or job action. The pilots, meanwhile, had a far different view of the cancellation problem.
The pilots pinned the problem on senior management. Leaders for the pilots said they have been reaching the federally mandated per month hourly flying limit at a faster pace. The pilots contend they agreed to work more in order to help Northwest through bankruptcy. Their leader noted that he had not been aware of any recent abnormal weather problems over Minneapolis, Minnesota (Northwest's main hub) and its other locations-including Detroit, Michigan.
Meantime, the airline has issued an apology to passengers affected by the cancellations.
NWA Statement Regarding Flight Cancellations
June 26, 2007
In recent days, as a result of several factors including air traffic control restrictions, severe summertime weather and a higher than normal level of pilot absenteeism, Northwest's mainline scheduled operations have been negatively impacted. This has required the airline to pre-cancel a number of flights
Over the past four days (Friday to Monday) the average percentage of cancelled flights on a system-wide basis, including all NWA mainline and Airlink flights, was 4.4. For the same period, the average percentage of cancelled mainline flights was approximately 10.7.
In May 2007 Northwest's mainline operations completed 99.1 percent of its scheduled flights.
Northwest is working to remedy the situation and expects shortly to operate a normal summertime schedule.
Northwest is continuing to take the necessary steps to address the situation including:
1. Relaxing travel restrictions to help ensure flight reaccomodation as quickly as possible
2. Proactively pre-cancelling flights well in advance to allow adequate time for customers to rebook
3. Increasing the use of Northwest's Automated Flight Rebooking (AFR) system to help ensure quick reaccomodation
4. Increasing both reservations and airport staffing to assist customers with their flights
5. Contacting customers regarding the status of their flights including:
• Extensive use of the airline's automated notification system, which alerts customers to a change in their travel plans and when possible, automatically provides new flight information.
• Aggressively promoting recently improved technology to notify customers by email and PDA of any flight schedule change.
Customers can also check the status of their flights at nwa.com. Through nwa.com, customers can utilize the airline's "My NWA Info" flight status notification options, which provide customers with current flight information. Customers can also rebook flights, as needed, on the site. Flight status updates are also available through Northwest's toll-free automated flight information line at 1-800-441-1818.
NWA realizes that its crew scheduling issues have presented travel problems for some customers and sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this issue has caused.