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NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 2:59 am


With fear of opening up a can of words, I wonder if some of the more knowledgable people could clear up the situation or have any info about additional CRJ's for NW.

Lately, from both PCL and XJ crews there have been a lot of rumors going around about NW obtaining additional financing and converting some of their options into firm orders for additional CRJ's. Now, the question being raised is, of course, will they go to Pinnacle, or to Mesaba.

First here at the facts that we all know:
- NW has a firm order for 129 CRJ aircraft. All 129 have been allocated to Pinnacle. Currently there are about 90 CRJ's that have been delivered. The balance of the order will be filled by year-end 2004 / early 2005, dependent upon the accelerated delivery schedule.
- NW has options for an additional 175 CRJ's
- The Jet Agreement for the Arvos with Mesaba runs through May 1, 2007 at which time it can be extended or terminated.
- The Saab Agreement for the Saabs with Mesaba runs through June 30, 2007 at which time it can be extended or terminated.
- The A model Saabs will be gone this year, and the garden variety bastard child B models from a variety of sources will be gone in 2005, leaving XJ with a fleet of approximately 50 of the newest Saabs on long term lease.
- Pinnacle pilot contracts are up in Spring 2005, and thus could set worth the NW whipsaw tactic as they love to do with their Airlink providers at contract time.

Thus, I guess there is more questions than answers at this time. NW is quickly burning through the CRJ order, if they are going to continue deliveries beyond early '05, they will have to make a decision soon. Now, there is no way they are going to convert all of those options at this time, but perhaps take on an additional 10-20? I guess it depends. Now, just exactly how many 44-seat CRJ's does NW need in the first place, as they need somewhere to fly them too. Parking for RJ's is at a premium at DTW these days, at least for the next two years until the addition on B and rebuild of C is complete. Heck, on occasion now, I've seen CRJ's parked at A concourse.

(Lets not turn this thread into where these all end up going, and you all know what I mean)
And no, don't reply with some BS about how NW is going to convert all those options for CRJ's into the Q400 that furloughed mainline pilots will fly under Horizon on routes like DTW-PTK, DTW-FNT, etc, etc, etc.
Or how NW is going to dump the CRJ fleet since they are unhappy with its climb performance and instead buy all ERJ's instead.

Have at it.
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:11 am

PSU, with all due respect, unless someone from Executive Management enters into the forum, any information received will be speculation and additional rumor at best.
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:13 am

You seem to be pretty well versed on this subject, so I will only input what I have heard thru the grapevine. Rumor is that when a major maintenance check is coming up on a DC9 that A/C will be parked and replaced by a CRJ. I have not heard any rumors about NW going w/ the ERJ, but I could see them going with the 70 seat CRJ to replace maybe the DC9 -10 that they will start parking this summer (THANK GOD). That is all that I know at this time.

Topic Author
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:17 am

Speculation is ok, its just that too many times these threads bring out the most rediculous comments from people who have absolutely no clue about the subject and make remarks, on what they think would look cool.

As for the part about ERJ's and Q400's, sorry, I just put that in there to be sarcastic about how some people usually reply with some absurd remarks. NW is not getting ERJ's (well at least the true jungle jets, the <50 seaters)
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:28 am

Apparantly the mgmt over at PNCL has announced NW has obtained financing for 75 more CRJs. Whether that is fact or fiction is debatable. Fact is though, they're going to have early openers for their pilot contract. Fact is that NW never rewards a negotiating airline. Fact is, no more 50+ seat a/c are allowed on the property based on NWA scope. That said, I think we'll have to wait until NWA pilots are complete at least with their scope section of their current negotations before we learn the future of XJ and PNCL beyond their current fleets.

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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 3:28 am

Flyingblind, don't think the current NW pilot contract would permit CRJ's or CRJ crews taking over retired Trash-10 flying. From a NW DC-9 captain friend, NW only retains something like four or five -10's currently.

RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 4:43 am

At this point, I doubt even NW has definite long-term fleet plans.

IMO, the key is MEM. Last year NW had the hub’s flying scheduled to comprise of about 80% props/regional jets during the first quarter of this year. However, they decided to downgrade to three banks and mainline flying was restored. Many saw this as a short-term solution to deploy RJ elsewhere and satisfy squabbling mainline pilots who were upset with the company’s moves. However, there’s little doubt in my mind that MEM will return to the four-bank/mostly RJ solution. I expect a new RJ order to justify this, whether its exercising its CRJ options (like most analysts expect) or contracting another Airlink partner (a la Mesa) to do so (although the former is much more likely).

I also expect NW to amend its contracts so that it can replace the ARJ with the CR7, EMB-17X, 728JET or F70 (with the CR7 or E70 being the most likely)…

But one fact the remains is that NW plans on retiring its final DC-9 by 2015 – and I doubt any of the aircraft will beyond that. This means the airline will have to add more than 200 jets to its fleet within 10 years – thus, I expect we’ll have so idea of NW’s solution (albeit regional jets and/or mainline jets) shortly.
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 9:17 am

another question about nwa and the crj, do either of the nwa airlink operators fly the crj with only 40 or 44 seats. i know the erj has a shortened version, but i was looking around on the nwa site, and find a flight with only 40 seats total, and thought maybe a crj with a different seating configuration.
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 10:40 am

CRJs are only configured in 44 seat or 50 seats. Mainly the reason the 44 seats came about was because of the great scope clause.

Honestly, I doubt 9E will get anymore CRJs as it is. First off, they will have 129, if anything like a strike looms, thats a lot of flying and planes in jeopardy. NW doesn't like that, they like having a balance of flying.

What I think is sort of happening although I haven't heard anything, but from the power of deduction (Do I sound smart, what im going for) is that they will retire their DC9-10 fleet soon and take ARJs on those routes. That and might start to fly them out East on routes that can't fill the planes of a DC-9, but you have bigwigs that want the first class. I don't know how NW justifies sending ARJs to RST, DSM, DLH. Of course sending 4 engines to these cities seems absured. Think it would be in NW's interest to send them to ORD, EWR, ATL where you have more business people but the don't need the capacity because of all the airlines that fly into them. Think NW is doing that as we speak. Hence new routes.

(Out of MSP- ORD, ATL, CLT, AUS) DTW and MEM have their own big cities but don't know them.

Another POV is change the scope clause, get the ARJs up to 85 seats, make an order for 70 seaters whether ERJs or CRJs, and expand the 50 seat CRJ operation.

At any rate, this is speculation, but I think its an educated guess.
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RE: NW Additional CRJ Options? Fact/Fiction

Thu Apr 01, 2004 11:31 am

Good points raised by people so far.

You raise good point about NWA pilot negotiations. I guess they would rather wait to see what sort of tradeoff in the scope clause they can get before committing to additional RJ's, regardless of size. I'm sure NW would like to have all CRJ's fly as 50 seaters, and I'm sure they'd like to add more aircraft in the 70 seat range. We all know, that in the short term (next 3-5 years) they do not need any more 90 seaters since the DC-9's will be around, hence no need for the CR9 or E-190.

Yeah, I guess MEM is the wildcard in things too. It seems that a 3-bank operation doesn't lead to a viable hub. You would think they would think about bringing back to the 4th bank to some extent, but at the same time, NW is focusing on connecting many of the traditional MEM spoke stations to either DTW or MSP. It seems that the long term fleet plan is dependent upon both what they plan on doing with MEM and what the NWA pilots agree to.

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