Northwesterly Spin

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Northwest Airline’s mechanics went on strike on Saturday to protest coming job cuts and other concessions that the airline says are necessary for continued operations. Since Saturday, a number of articles have trumpeted the airline’s ability to keep airborne, due to some unions’ willingness to cross pickets, Northwest’s innovative usage of pre-trained “replacement” workers, and supervisors filling some shifts. Here are takes from the New York Times and USA Today. Apparently NWA stock is going up because operations are going so “smoothly” despite the strike.

But according to one business travel columnist, Northwest’s own online flight tracker suggests that’s anything but the case. He’s run the numbers, finding that the airline is only having about 50 percent of arrivals come in on time. That’s a substantial decrease from NWA’s June number of 72.5 percent on time arrivals – the most recent numbers available from the Department of Transportation. The blog-like full report is reserved for paid subscribers, but one of the mechanics’ locals is apparently reposting it. He also notes that cancellations are starting to crop up, and will continue to as flight crews’ federal “duty time” limits are eaten away by mechanical related delays. It seems that judgments about the genius of Northwest’s plan could be premature.

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