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Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 3:45 pm

Saw this article in the Washington Post about Northwest and their DC-9 Fleet.


Comments anyone?
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 3:50 pm

I believe that their gamble has paid off. I love flying their DC-9's (which I will do again later this month), for not only the nostalgia, but also that I can have window seat with only climbing over one other person to get to the aisle. I would expect them to be one of the major growth airlines once the war situation is over.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 5:34 pm

Northwest's gamble, had there not been the significant downturn in air traffic that we've seen over the past 1 1/2 years, would now be seen as a bad bet. Were it not for 9/11 and a slowed economy, Northwest would be behind everyone else (except maybe US) in terms of costs, and as such closer to financial instability.

Right now, it makes sense. In 1997, it was a decision not to "spend money to make money." It was largely a decision to maximize current profit levels to the detriment of future net revenues. It was not smart planning (though it turned out to be a good decision with no credit to NW's mgt).

Expect to see NW replace its DC-9 fleet following an economic upswing, perhaps with 737-NGs or 712/3s, or even Airbus A318/19. The DC-9s are not cost effective enough to keep around much longer.
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Nw Dc-9

Fri Apr 04, 2003 5:39 pm

NW has enough DC-9's around to make for a good economy of scale, that's for sure.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 6:11 pm

However, NW will have to replace their DC-9 fleet sooner or later, despite the major effort NW did in D-checking their planes to meet more modern standards. This is due to the upcoming ICAO regulations for jet engine noise and exhaust emissions that will come into effect in 2006.

I expect within the next few years NW to be looking at buying 90 to 120 seat airliners that will be phased in at about 20 to 30 planes per year until the DC-9 fleet is gone; it'll probably end up being a mix of A319's for the busier routes and either the 717-200 or the Embraer 195-200 for less-busy routes. It's too bad that the Fairchild-Dornier 928 never made it because it would have been the perfect plane to replace NW's DC-9 fleet.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 6:26 pm


I have to disagree with you on your point. The decision was a smart move back in 1997 for various reasons:

1) Already undertaking a major fleet renewal program at the time. NW was playing catch up back from the period in the early 90's and their financial melt-down. At the time they were taking deliveries of A320's, 757's, 747-400's, Saab 340's, ARJ's, and also still acquiring used DC-10-30's for trans-Atlantic ops. NW hadn't yet begun to receive A319's and CRJ's that were on order. NW was undergoing a huge route expansion during this time also. Their fleet priorities were as follows: #1-retire the 727-200, #2 retire the DC-10-40's from domestic, #3 retire the DC-10-30's from trans-Atlantic. These 3 aircraft types had 3-person crews which was additional cost that could be eliminated. The 727's directly overlapped with the A320, an easy simplication. NW knew they would have to order a DC-10 replacement soon. They also knew 742's were getting older and would likly need to be replaced shortly thereafter. They simply couldn't tackle the DC-9 fleet at the same time.

2) No suitable replacement aircraft at the time. NW hadn't taken delivery of the A319 yet. The A318 was only a concept. Didn't want the MD-90, nor the planned MD-95, since the 717 wasn't named yet. Large RJ'? No one had heard of them back then. To add to your above comment, NW will never operate a 737NG since they already operate the A319/A320 family.

3) No resale value / second hand market. Who would want 170 DC-9's? Not only that, you would dilute what little resale value they had in the first place. Since you own them, its not like you can just turn them back to the lease company and it becomes their responsiblity to determine the fate of the aircraft.

4) Low cycles: The majority of aircraft were not that old and had low cycles for their age. The -50's are only sightly older than the oldest MD-80's. These were some of the last -9's off the line in the late 70's and early 80's. In 1997, the -50's hadn't even turned 20 yet. The oldest of the 9's in the fleet, the -10's and 30's, were just turning 30.

5) Low operating costs: Unlike other aircraft of its timeperiod, the DC-9 only requires a 2-person crew. Fuel burn may be higher, but NW has reduced the average stage length of DC-9 flights. Longer routes that were typically flown by -9's have been taken over by the A319. For flights under ~1000 miles, the DC-9 is still as economical as other aircraft. The DC-9 only costs about $1900 per block hour to operate.

People on here always knock NW for their old fleet, but guess what, they have new aircraft too!!!!!!! like A319, A320, 757-200, 757-300, 747-400, CRJ's, ARJ's, and even the Saab's are young. A330's are coming too. With only the DC-9's and the decreasing role of the 742 left, there is little to say for NW having an old fleet.

The DC-9 "2000" plan was a smart and conservate move on the part of management, as after all things considered it proved to be the best option. Its alot better than having to deal with additional lease payments and financing for the time being.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 6:35 pm

RayChuang, you always talk of the new ICAO regulation but it hasn't even been passed yet. There is no way it will take effect in 2006 and I guarentee whatever the regulations are, aircraft and airlines will be exempt and grandfathered in. They are not suddenly going to ban all 732's, DC-9', 727's, and not to mention all the biz-jets that fall into this category. Maybe in Europe, but not here in the United States. The state of passenger airlines in this country is already in enough hurt that they couldn't take the brunt of this new law.

Also, NW has deffered deliveries of some A319/A320 through 2005-2006. Therefore there won't be any new orders until AT least 2006 if not longer.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 6:44 pm

The FDJs might indeed make it back in the skies one day with AVIC I (or II?) starting due deligence on the project and might well buy the whole thing for its own program.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Fri Apr 04, 2003 10:38 pm

Well said there Elwood.
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Fri Apr 04, 2003 11:20 pm

The A318 is much too heavy for it's payload.
-Transaero Boeing 737-200
I can see 717-300 (if FL orders them) for busier routes, and like a 737NG, but NOT AN RJ on those routes. I think NW should keep RJs out of mainline, unlike what US plans to do with EMBRAER.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Sat Apr 05, 2003 12:24 am

It was a smart move.

Other airlines laughing about the old horses have become silent lately.

Part of it was focus on primary passenger demands
- renew the cabin / lavatories
- enlarge the luggage bins and
- keep exterior painting in top condition.

combined with maximum focus on punctuality.

They tought the big 5 a lesson.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Sat Apr 05, 2003 3:33 am

Just to add to everyone who knocks the old aircraft in our NW fleet. Let me tell you a little something from experience. I started flying with NW in 2001 (of course I've been furloughed since then) and I too was a little skeptical of the ol' 9s. Everyone in my entire class started out on DC-9s. Me? Well for my first whole month and a half, it was only Airbuses and 757s & D10s. Not a single 9. Finally the day came when I got the 9. I was thrilled! The nine happened to be one of the best and most reliable aircraft in the entire fleet! Throughout my four months at NW, there were more problems with the Airbuses than the 9s. I'm not saying that every airbus flight had a problem, not at all. I'm just generally saying that anytime there was a problem that prevented the airplane from flying, it would normally be an airbus. Every new airplane has a bug or two somewhere, and they just had to be cleaned up. I love the DC-9s with a passion. The DC-9s are great, whether they're older than me or not  Big grin And the interior? Beautiful, like brand new. The only lil' problem is when I head to the rear to take my jumpseat by that tailcone, I've got to have the earplugs on! :0) I still love that noise though, its the sound of pure power! I enjoyed every second of noise on the 9s, 27s (which I miss very much!) and the 10s.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Sun Apr 06, 2003 7:27 am


NWA is phasing out their -9-10s, but some of them may remain in service. My airline is negotiation with NWA to buy some of them for use in PAX charter service. We will refurbish them with 50 1st class size seats in a 2x2 configuration.

We currently have 12 -9s (15s and 30s), and 12 Falcon 20s (what I fly). I am trying to get on our -9s. Rumours are of up to 10 -10s. It depends on the demand. We will be doing NCAA sports charters +.


PS-Our aircraft are white with a blue and red stripe, with a grey tail. The fuselage has a big "USA Jet Airlines" above the stripes. We currently fly all on-demand cargo.
TRY. It's all you have control over, and it's what God wants.

RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Sun Apr 06, 2003 9:13 am

Wait wait wait... $1900/hour to operate? Someone told me a 757 costs about 14,000/hour to operate... where can I get info on this.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Sun Apr 06, 2003 4:22 pm

Would like to see them paint "Don't laugh, its paid for."
on the side of these planes....
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Mon Apr 07, 2003 9:48 am

You can buy that information... and the 757 doesn't cost 14,000/hr, more like $3500/hr on the low side.
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:51 am

Which DOES remind me: when will we see an NW DC-9 in the new livery? I'm sure an NW DC-9 is probably undergoing a C-check overhaul and that could be the time to repaint the plane into the new livery. I think it'll actually look good, too.  Smile
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Mon Apr 07, 2003 12:40 pm

I don't understand why people are mentioning the 737NG as a possible replacement, and even so far as to say it and not an RJ.

The 737-600 is hobbled by the same poor weight/payload ratio as the A318. NW certainly isn't going to suddenly give up their very long relationship with the A320 series and start buying 737s. It would make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

717s, different story. I could so see those as a possibility.

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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Mon Apr 07, 2003 2:21 pm

It is true to say that analysists and enthusiasts were laughing at Northwest when they made it clear that they have no intention to replace the extensive DC-9 fleet. Out of all the aircraft produced from the era of the 1960s and 1970s, the DC-9 has lived beyond the expectations of many. Perhaps it would have been undergoing replacements had the Boeing 717 been produced earlier, and with improved market conditions.

Its interesting how many airlines that have long flew with the DC-9 had a hard time getting rid of them. Air Canada retired its last DC-9-32 last year, and this airline certainly had many of them in its fleet. There are basically only two DC-9 operators in Europe now, Finnair and JAT.

Finnair continues to operate the DC-9-51, though they are gradually being phased out from the fleet. To comply with the stringent European Union standards, the aircraft engines had to be modified to reduce noise and emissions. The airline is certainly no strange to the T-tails!

JAT continues to operate the DC-9-32, though they are being phased out. The two DC-9s that continue fly on regularly scheduled flights have been hushkitted, while the entire fleet also underwent successful cabin overhaul. The remaining six DC-9s are mainly on lease. The main argument as to why the DC-9 has not been replaced earlier, attributes to the fact that these aircraft did not have a lot of flying time through much of the past decade as a result of sanctions. Much has changed since then.

I am sure that Northwest will order many Boeing 717s when the time is right  Smile
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RE: Article About NWA And There DC-9s

Mon Apr 07, 2003 3:03 pm

The DC9's will most likely start getting the new paint scheme this summer. I know it's going to take 5 years to complete all of our A/C's
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