Flight cancellations spiked just before Northwest strike


Northwest Airlines confirmed yesterday what its mechanics union claimed and its passengers already knew: Its operations were badly fouled up at the beginning of the union's strike.

Northwest executives said yesterday that the airline canceled 8.4 percent of its flights - five times more than the industry average for 2005, the day before the strike began. As of yesterday afternoon, the airline said it had canceled 1.8 percent of its scheduled flights for the day, the norm for the industry.

Flight problems are still much higher than Northwest experienced last year at this time, according to FlightStats, an industry consulting firm in Portland, Ore.

Officials of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association have taken issue with the business-as-usual attitude of the airline. Since the strike began last Saturday, no talks have taken place between the airline and the union, which represents 4,430. Northwest is using 1,900 substitute workers to fill in for the strikers.

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