Topic Author
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 4:12 am

Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:51 am

Hi All,

I am curious about Northwest Orients ORD-BIL Flight...

When did it start?
When did it end?
What aircraft were used over the years?
What were the loads like?


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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2000 5:03 am

RE: Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:13 am

For whatever it's worth:

Northwest Orient, Billings, MT

Oct. 31, 1976 timetable: 10 dailies all mainline narrowbody

Bismarck, ND 2x
Bozeman, MT 2x
ORD, 1x (continues to DTW)
Great Falls MT 2x; also 1x one-stop via Bozeman
Helena, MT 2x
MSP, 1x; also 3 1-stops, 2 through Bismarck and 1 whose first stop isn't listed.
SEA--one three-stop, one two-stop.
GEG--two two-stop, one one-stop

March 2, 1986 timetable: 8 mainline narrowbody, 15x Airlink (Big Sky Airlines)
Mostly daily, some ExSatSun.

Bozeman, MT 1x mainline
Butte, MT 1x Airlink, also 3x 1 stop Airlink
Casper, WY 3x Airlink
ORD 1x mainline (still flight 72, still continues to DTW)
Glasgow, MT 2x Airlink
Glendive, MT 1x Airlink
Great Falls, MT 2x mainline; also 2x 1-stop mainline
Helena, MT 1x mainline, 3x Airlink
Lewistown, MT 2x Airlink
Miles City, MT 1x Airlink
MSP 3x mainline
Sidney, MT 2x Airlink
4x daily one-stop Airlink to Havre, MT
2x daily three-stop mainline to SEA.
3x daily one-stop mainline to Missoula.
2x daily two-stop mainline to GEG

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RE: Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:34 am

I don't have resources here at work, but at least in the June 26, 1981 timetable BIL-ORD was operated with a D10.

Remember, of course, this was back in the days when....

(1) ORD was nearly as big a hub for Northwest as MSP was

(2) Interline connections were big, so plenty fo people flew routes like BIL-LGA by flying BIL-ORD on Northwest and ORD-LGA on TWA.

(3) The D10 flight ran something like SEA-GEG-GTF-BIL-ORD. There were fewer flights and more milk runs (as opposed to nonstops) those days. So the ORD-BIL D10 carried quite a few people going to Great Falls and Spokane, too. I think there was only a single daily ORD-GEG nonstop.

(4) Load factors were commonly in the 40s, 50s and 60s on all airlines and all routes. Today a D10 with 170 people on is considered empty. Back then a D10 with 125 people onboard was run of the mill.

(5) In general there were fewer flights to fewer hubs in those days. From BIL there were probably only a few times per day when there were flights heading east on any airline, and everybody heading east had to get on one of those.

(6) NW did, at least for part of its life, feed some connections through Billings from other NW Montana cities. So there were routings like:


All those flights would be in BIL at once. This way they could (with several stops) serve markets like PDX-BIS and HLN-ORD. Those BIL-ORD nonstops probably carried plenty of non-Billings traffic.

I don't have actual loads for BIL-GEG, and stats from back then are not online. But nothing forced NW to fly a D10 in that market, so it was probably justified with loads at least in summer.

[Edited 2006-06-26 22:42:10]
Topic Author
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 4:12 am

RE: Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:49 am


Yeah, it is weird to think that at one point ORD was as big as MSP for Northwest Orient. That obviously changes drastically after the Republic merger when Northwest adopted the hub system at MSP, DTW, and MEM.

Even in the one NW timetable I do have from January of 1985 ORD was still very big for NW.

MSP was 1st with 36 cities served.
ORD was 2nd with 18 cities served.
SEA was 3rd with 11 cities served.
TPA and DTW were tied for 4th with 10 cities served.
NYC (All Three Airports Combined) were in 5th with 9 cities served.
BOS was 6th with 8 cities served.

Topic Author
Posts: 203
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 4:12 am

RE: Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:51 am


Does anyone know when the DC-10 was dropped on the route for ORD-BIL?
Was it only in service during the busy summer season?

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Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 3:26 pm

RE: Northwest Orient And Their ORD-BIL Flight.

Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:30 pm

No, the DC-10 service from BIL-ORD was year-round and was very very popular. It was my one of my grandfather's normal routes. I will check with him to see exactly when it ended.
Good goes around!

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