Northwest Airlines flew through the first fortnight of a mechanics’ strike largely unscathed, but was hobbled by the rising cost of fuel.

The airline, the USA’s fourth largest, completed more than 98% of its schedule before Hurricane Katrina – which swept up the Mississippi Valley towards its Memphis hub – pushed up fuel prices.

Northwest’s well-developed contingency plan limited the effects of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association walkout that started on 20 August as the airline turned to contract maintenance, repair and overhaul services and replacement mechanics – many of them laid-off and furloughed airline workers.

But soaring oil prices will hit Northwest, which has a less fuel-efficient and older fleet than most US legacy carriers. It already plans to idle 30 of its 150 Douglas DC-9s next month, even though they were upgraded a decade ago.

Source: Flight International