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Northwest’s gas guzzling planes

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CHERYL GLASER: A tentative deal between Northwest Airlines and its flight attendants has helped the airline avert the threat of a strike for now. Rank and file workers will vote later this month whether to approve the deal. But as Annie Baxter reports, bankrupt Northwest still has other hurdles to clear.


ANNIE BAXTER: If Northwest’s flight attendants ratify the new contract, and a small group of about 40 technicians finalizes its own deal, the company will achieve its labor-savings goal of $1.4 billion.

But even if Northwest hits that fixed target, it still has to take on a moving one: oil.

Aviation analyst Michael Miller says Northwest has the oldest airplane fleet among the world’s major carriers.

MICHAEL MILLER: It’s as if Northwest has a fleet of Hummers compared to a fleet of Toyota Priuses at other carriers. It’s a much more critical issue when oil is this high.

Miller says as oil surpasses $76 a barrel, Northwest’s fleet restructuring will be just as important as its labor component.

In St. Paul, I’m Annie Baxter for Marketplace.

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