Dutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 58 Reply 1, posted (6 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3197 times:
It has been asked and answered many times.
NW was an early A340 customer.....and some early build A340s were allocated to NW and ended up with Virgin via a leasing deal. Some say that one or more A340s were painted in NW colors, others say it never happened, its not clear what the real answer is.
NW placed an order for the A330 and A340 back in the 1980s.....NW went through some very difficult financial times in the early 1990s and it could not afford to accept delivery of the A340s when they were ready for delivery. NW's order with Airbus for the A320/330/340 was revised, delayed, renegotiated and restructed many many times over the years......NW never did accept delivery of an A340, but the A330s did join the NW fleet (even if they were about ten years later than originally planned) and NW has a huge A319/A320 fleet......some of the A320s were ordered in consideration of the delays and cancellation of the widebody orders. During the late 80s and early 90s, NW grew its longhaul fleet by picking up DC10-30s on the second hand market instead of acquiring much more expensive new airplanes.
And, to answer you next question, CO also was an early A330/A340 customer (7 of each were ordered).......that order was cancelled during one of the CO bankruptcy proceedings and CO also went with second hand DC10-30s to add long haul capacity. Later, when Gordon came to CO, large Boeing orders were placed to renew CO's long and short haul fleets.