The A330-200/300 will replace the DC-10 on International segments beginning this fall and concluding in late 2004/early 2005 (but deliveries of the 24 A330 will continue via 2006). Presently, the plan is to keep about a dozen DC-10 aircraft in the fleet for many years serving Hawaii and other high-density domestic routes. But there’s speculation “from the inside” that B753 will be replace the DC-10 to Hawaii (and perhaps an A332 from MSP
) and thus the DC-10 will be flushed from NW
’s fleet within a few years.
No replacement fleet types have been selected for the DC-9 or B742. However, NW
is exploring its options for the DC-9 and deciding between the A346, B773 or B744 for the B742. Given that the A319 are replacing many short-distance DC-9 flights from DTW
, etc.) and NW
’s interest in increasing the number of fight banks at MEM
, it’s quite possible that a combination of RJ
and A319 will replace the DC-9. I’d put my money on the A346 to replace the B742 – given that NW
’s price sensitive (the A346 could be acquired for significantly less than the B773); NW
’s invested significant amounts of money in Airbus maintenance facilities; and the A346 is common with the A330.
Presently, the emphasis is being placed on replacing fleet types that will provide huge benefits – e.g. RJs are replacing Torture Props, A319/A320 the B727, B752/B753 the DC-10-40, A332/A333 the DC-10-30, etc. Even though it could be considered a buyer’s market right now, I expect NW
to hold off purchasing new aircraft until the present situation (repressed economy, the possibility of UA
’s liquidation, etc.)
Also, to address earlier comments, NW
DID initiate a fleet renewal with the rest of the majors in the late 80s – A320 were to replace the B727, A342 the DC-10 and B744 the B742 (a decision would be made later on the DC-9 replacement – probably the A319 eventually). However, NW
came close to bankruptcy and cancelled all of their orders. Since then, they’ve returned to financial salability but have invested their money in other projects (e.g. paying off loans, the pilots strike of 1998, being the primary financer of updated/new facilities at MSP
, etc.) Yet NW
did place fleet renewal orders during the mid-to-late 90s; the orders were spread out, however. NW
will be the only major carrier accepting significant delivery of new planes over the next several years.
In the mean time, NW
’s poured money into renovating their DC-9s, older A320 and B752, DC-10 and B742 aircraft – every plane is in respectable condition. Personally, I find it insulting when some teenage who’s only annual (or bi-annual?) plane trip comes on his families vacation to Disney World puts down NWA. Overall, it’s a highly respectable airline.