Northwest Airlines

One of the world's largest airlines.

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Headquarters: 7500 Airline Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55450
Employees: 31,000
CEO: Douglas Steenland
Stock Symbol: NWA


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Northwest Airlines is one of the world's largest airlines flying over 1,400 daily departures with hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, Tokyo and Amsterdam. The company has a commuter subsidiary called Northwest Airlink.

Northwest was acquired by Delta Air Lines in October 2008 in a stock deal valued at $2.7 billion which will form the world's largest airline. The number of jobs lost has yet to be determined but Northwest planes and uniforms will eventually change to Delta in 2009.

Northwest is a member of SkyTeam, an airline alliance that offers customers one of the world's most extensive global networks. Northwest and its travel partners serve more than 1,000 cities in over 160 countries on six continents. Northwest operates more than 200 nonstop flights between the United States and Asia each week.

The airline operates a fleet of more than 500 aircraft including Boeing 747s, and 757s, McDonnell-Douglas DC-9s and Airbus A330s, A320s and A319s. Northwest also is one of the world's largest cargo airlines, operating a dedicated fleet of 14 B747 freighters. It is the only U.S. combination carrier (passenger and cargo service) to operate dedicated 747 freighters.

Company facilities include:

- World Headquarters: Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Reservations Centers: Baltimore, Chisholm, Minn.; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Seattle/Tacoma; Tampa, Fla. 
- Maintenance Bases: Minneapolis/St. Paul; Tokyo
- Pilot Bases: Anchorage; Detroit; Honolulu; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Flight Attendant Bases: In the United States: Boston, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York Kennedy/La Guardia, San Francisco and Seattle/Tacoma. International locations include Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong; Manila, Philippines; Osaka, Japan; Beijing; Singapore; Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo
- In Flight Office: Amsterdam

The company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, 2006

In 2007, Northwest had revenues of $12.52 billion and net incom of $2.09 billion.

Due to high fuel costs, Northwest announced in April it will reduce its schedule by 5% this fall and freeze hiring of employees.


1926 - September 1: Col. Lewis Brittin founds Northwest Airways as a Michigan corporation with operations based at Speedway Flying Field (site of today's Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport). Harold H. Emmons of Detroit is the first president; Col. Brittin is vice president and general manager.
October 1: Northwest Airways takes to the sky, carrying air mail from the Twin Cities to Chicago with a "fleet" of two rented, open-cockpit biplanes - a Thomas Morse Scout and a Curtiss Oriole.
November 2: Northwest introduces the nation's first closed-cabin commercial plane - the three passenger Stinson Detroiter.

July 5: St. Paul businessman Byron Webster becomes Northwest's first ticketed passenger, paying $40 for a 12 1/2-hour, one-way flight from the Twin Cities to Chicago via La Crosse, Madison, and Milwaukee, Wis. Charlie "Speed" Holman, Northwest's first pilot, is at the controls.
Northwest adds the Laird biplane to its fleet for mail service.
In 1927, Northwest carries a total of 106 passengers - about one-fourth the capacity of a single Boeing 747 from today's fleet.

February 1: Northwest becomes an international airline with weekly Twin Cities-Winnipeg flights via Fargo, N.D. Fargo-Winnipeg service is suspended after three months due to opposition from the Canadian government.
April 2: The first scheduled air express is carried into the Twin Cities.
September 1: The first coordinated air-rail mail service begins from the Twin Cities to Chicago. Service expands to Green Bay, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Neenah-Menasha and Appleton, Wis. Northwest expands its fleet with Waco biplanes, mostly for airmail service, six-passenger single-engine Hamilton Metalplanes and 14-passenger Ford Tri-Motors.
August 1: Twin Cities businessmen led by Richard C. Lilly of St. Paul purchase Northwest Airways from the original Michigan investor group. Lilly is named president. First night air mail flight between the Twin Cities-Chicago. The Government adopts Northwest's "U.S. Air Mail" insignia for all air mail carriers.
Service expands to Rochester, MN.

1938 - Northwest develops the first practical aviation oxygen mask, making possible high-altitude flying over the Rocky Mountains.
1948 - The "Red Tail" is painted on all Northwest aircraft for the first time, creating a trademark that becomes known world-wide and that continues in use almost 50 years later.
1955 - Northwest voluntarily becomes the first airline to operate without government subsidy on Trans-Pacific and United States-Alaska routes.
1960 - Northwest begins "fastest U.S. jet service to Asia" with Douglas DC8 aircraft, the airline's first "pure jet."
1971 - Northwest is honored for noise abatement leadership by National Organization to Ensure a Sound-Controlled Environment.
1976 - Northwest is the first airline approved by FAA to install coordinated flight crew training.
1988 - Northwest bans smoking on all North American flights, the first major U.S. airline to do so.
1991 - Northwest and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launch their first joint service, twice-weekly flights between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Amsterdam.


Northwest Airlines offers competitive compensation including group medical, dental and life insurance; paid holidays, vacation and sick leave; 401K; and, a company paid retirement program.  Travel privileges are extended to employees and their eligible family members.

Updated November 11, 2008