Plan will see ageing 747-200s and DC-10s phased out earlier than expected

Northwest Airlines has converted 10 of the 24 A330-300s it has on order to longer-range, reduced-capacity A330-200s in a fleet plan shake-up, which includes the accelerated retirement of its Boeing 747-200s and McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.

Northwest, which will become the first operator of the A330-300 Enhanced in July, will also be the first US carrier to operate the -200 from the middle of next year.

The Enhanced model's improvements have been grafted from the A340-500/600 and include a cockpit with liquid crystal displays, a fly-by-wire rudder instead of mechanical controls and a new cabin.

The airline's schedule calls for delivery of five of the 300-seat A330-300s by the end of this year and a total of 18 -200/300s by the end of 2005. As part of the revamped order, delivery of the remaining A330s has been extended by two years to the end of 2008. All the aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000s. Its holds options on another 36 A330s.

Northwest late last year announced the deferral of 13 Airbus aircraft, including six A319/A320s due for delivery in 2003-5, by an average of two years.

The A330s will replace its 22 DC-10-30s on international routes. The carrier's financial results for 2002 included a $366 million write-down charge for the accelerated retirement of the DC-10s and some of its 747-200s.

The carrier plans to reduce its domestic fleet from five to three types - the A319/A320, the Boeing 757-200/300 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-9. Northwest's last 727-200 was retired earlier this month. The airline is understood to have deferred replacing its fleet of 167 DC-9s with a new 100-seat aircraft for another five years and is instead supplementing the type with larger A319/A320s.

Northwest now operates 133 Airbus narrowbodies and has a further eight A320s and 21 A319s on order.

Source: Flight International