Northwest to cut flights by 5 percent in September

Lined up
Northwest Airlines aircraft sit at the terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport Monday in Romulus, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Eagan-based Northwest Airlines is taking several new actions to deal with soaring fuel costs and a sinking economy.

The airline said it will cut domestic flying by five percent in September after the summer travel season concludes. The airline will also ground 15 to 20 more planes.

Northwest said it will also raise fuel surcharges for flights between Japan and North America by $20 each way to $160.

Northwest Airlines ticket counter
A Northwest Airlines ticket agent at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.
MPR Photo/Toni Randolph

In addition, the airline is freezing hiring for pilots and flight attendants. But Northwest said it isn't planning job cuts at this time and won't be asking workers to take pay cuts.

Northwest spokeswoman Tammy Lee said it makes sense to shrink the airline at times like these.

"We're beginning to right-size the airline by taking out unnecessary capacity and also doing some cost-saving measures that will put the airline into a better position. And also maintain our cash position," Lee said.

Northwest said it will try to build up its cash reserves through cost reductions, productivity improvements and efforts to generate new revenue.

Those efforts include the airline's previously announced plan to charge $25 each-way for a second checked bag. That and other new baggage charges are expected to produce $25 million in revenue this year.

Northwest also expects to get a financial boost from increasing its international flying.