has joined other major carriers in planning fourth-quarter capacity cuts, saying it will reduce its system mainline capacity by 8.5% to 9.5%.
The carrier also said that its proposed merger with
, which was signed when oil was at $100 a barrel, is even more imperative with crude at $130 because it will improve overall efficiency and create a worldwide network.
However, for the moment, Northwest shied away from charging $15 for the first checked bag, a fee that has been leveled by
Those three carriers have also announced fourth-quarter domestic capacity cuts ranging from 6% at US Airways to 14% at UAL's United. Except for
, every major carrier plans to either keep capacity stable or shrink in the fourth quarter.
"In response to these extraordinary fuel costs, we are taking prudent actions to reduce our capacity and rightsize the airline," said CEO Doug Steenland, in a prepared statement. "This will allow us to better match our capacity to customer demand as airfares, by necessity, must increase."
Northwest said it will reduce its DC-9 fleet from 94 aircraft at the start of 2008 to 61 by year-end. A combination of 14 Boeing 757s and Airbus narrowbody planes will also be eliminated. Consolidated capacity, including regionals and international flights, will decline by 3% to 4%. No domestic stations will close, however.