MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Northwest Airlines planes could be used to transport troops and military equipment if the United States goes to war with Iraq.
Northwest, along with other major airlines, takes part in the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet program, which allows the military to use commercial planes to deploy military resources, Northwest CEO Richard Anderson said.
Management has met with labor groups, including pilots and flight attendants, to talk about a transport role if the U.S. attacks Saddam Hussein's forces.
Company spokesman Bill Mellon said the airline played a transport role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Northwest used six of its Boeing 747s to carry military personnel and equipment.
Four or five planes could be used if the government requests Northwest's help again.
"We have not received a CRAF call-up yet," Anderson said Friday in a recorded message to employees.
Because of escalating tension between the U.S. and Iraq, Anderson said Northwest made deals to lock in fuel prices for a significant portion of its 2003 supply.
In this year's first quarter, Northwest will pay about $27 a barrel for fuel, even though current market prices are much higher, he said.
"While the Iraq situation will be very difficult for our industry, we are taking the steps necessary to be certain that we are as well prepared as we can be," Anderson said.
In 2002, Northwest spent $1.44 billion for aircraft fuel and taxes. By hedging, or locking in prices at certain levels, Northwest saved about $59 million in fuel costs last year, Mellon said.
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