EAGAN (AP) -- No one will lose their job when Northwest Airlines eliminates its pilot bases in Seattle and the Twin Cities over the next year, the Eagan, Minn.-based company announced Wednesday.
But the pilots still think the plan is flawed.
Northwest plans to also eliminate its Seattle base early next year as well as its Minneapolis-St. Paul base for Boeing 727s by June 2002. The moves affect 236 Twin Cities-based 727 pilots and 170 Seattle-based Boeing 747 pilots. Based on their seniority, the pilots involved can bid for relocation to another pilot base of their choice.
But the airline's pilots' union questioned the move, saying it will create a costly reshuffling of personnel.
The decisions are part of an aggressive cost-containment program initiated in February by Northwest Chief Executive Richard Anderson and President Doug Steenland to combat an industry-wide revenue decline.
Hal Myers, spokesman for the Northwest Air Line Pilots Association, said the Seattle base closing will have a "big ripple effect" in the union because Seattle-based pilots typically have top seniority. When they bid for jobs at other bases, they will bump junior pilots to other assignments.
Myers said the retraining expenses and the relocation costs for pilots who move from Seattle will be stiff in the near term, when finances are tight.
"They need to save money today and there will be an increase in cost in the short term," Myers said.
Closing the Seattle pilot base will not affect Northwest's other operations there, said NWA spokeswoman Kathy Peach. About 1,750 Northwest employees are based in Seattle.
The decision to cut the pilot base in the Twin Cities is related to the company's previously announced decision to retire its 727 fleet by September 2003. The aging three-engine planes are being replaced with quieter Airbus A-319s, A-320s and Boeing 757-200s.
The consolidation of all 727 pilots to the Detroit base doesn't mean there will be a reduction in 727 flights in and out of the Twin Cities, Peach said.
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