Category Archives: Northwest Airlines

Delta looks back on the 10th Anniversary of the Northwest merger

Ten years ago, Delta made history when it announced a merger with Northwest Airlines – a pairing that would create a global powerhouse that is today the acknowledged industry leader.

“To many Delta and Northwest veterans, including myself, it seems like just yesterday,” CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a memo to employees. “It is remarkable how far we have come since then.”

The announcement 10 years ago Sunday was just the beginning of a massive integration that brought the two airlines together. The merger became official on October 29, 2008, and Delta and Northwest’s operating certificates were merged on December 31, 2009.

Since then, the combined Delta has dramatically increased its global footprint, achieved reliability that is the envy of its competitors, and consistently outperforms its peers in customer service and financial performance.

Even as competitors responded with their own mergers, Delta’s success in the immensely complicated task of combining the two airlines gave it a major advantage.

“As the merger took hold, the performance grew stronger and not just in the financials,” wrote business columnist and airline commentator Mitchell Schnurman on the merger’s fifth anniversary. “Mergers may be painful, but the payoff can be huge if done right.”


  • In April 2008, Delta’s stock was valued at $7.99 per share. On Thursday, the stock traded above $53.
  • Operating revenue of both airlines combined has grown 20 percent during the decade.
  • Profit-sharing has resulted in record-breaking payouts to Delta people, with more than $5 billion distributed, a feat no other company has ever matched. Meanwhile, average compensation has increased by 80 percent since the merger.
  • Delta is setting the bar for the in-flight experience with the flagship A350 aircraft and an ongoing fleet renewal that is improving efficiency and reliability.
  • Delta’s network today is truly global thanks in part to a unique partnership strategy with leading international airlines Virgin Atlantic, Air France-KLM, Aeromexico, Korean Air and others.
  • Delta has invested $7 billion in airport infrastructure since the merger, with another $12 billion coming during the next five years. The investments will allow Delta to design the airports of the future in New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
  • The airline’s people-focused culture remains the foundation of the business.

The Northwest tie-up was the latest in a history of mergers that have helped fuel Delta’s success. Delta’s “family tree” (below) includes Chicago & Southern Air Lines; Western Airlines; Northeast Airlines and the trans-Atlantic and shuttle routes owned by Pan Am.

“We are incredibly fortunate to be part of this unique family that was expanded 10 years ago and continues to grow,” Bastian wrote in his letter. “I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.”

Delta-Northwest Family Tree:

Best Seller

Above Copyright Photo: Northwest Orient Airlines (Northwest Airlines) Boeing 747-151 N602US (msn 19779) MIA (Bruce Drum). Image: 101343.

Northwest Airlines aircraft slide show:


40 years later, part of McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 N401EA to be sold as Delta Gift Cards

Northwest Airlines-NWA McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 N401EA (msn 47682) BWI (Brian McDonough). Image: 902732.

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 was originally delivered to Allegheny Airlines as N920VJ (msn 47682) on October 10, 1975. The airframe was traded to Eastern Airlines (1st) as N401EA on November 16, 1978. Northwest Airlines (above) acquired the airliner on March 24, 1994 and kept the Eastern registration mark. With the merger by Delta Air Lines, the aircraft transitioned to Delta. Delta retired N401EA on January 5, 2013.

Now Delta is selling gift cards made from the aluminum skin. The airline issued this statement and photo:

Delta DC-9-51 N401EA Gift Card

Delta is giving customers and aviation enthusiasts an opportunity to own a piece of history as the airline has begun selling limited edition gift cards on eBay made from a recently retired DC-9 aircraft.

Only 2,500 cards have been produced from the aluminum skin of the jet and are selling for $250. Each card is marked with a unique sequence number ranging from 1 to 2,500, and the cards are loaded with $50 of non-expiring gift card value which can be used towards the purchase of airfare from Delta for any Delta-marketed flight worldwide.

Delta annually sells tens of thousands of gift cards at various denominations for purchases on The DC-9 collector gift card is the first specialized card that Delta has produced.

The DC-9 used to create the Delta Gift Cards flew under four different airline brands—Allegheny Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines—during its lifespan. The gift cards come encased in a durable card-stock carrier designed to display and protect the collectible. The carrier features a history of the DC-9 aircraft as well as images capturing the production of the limited edition Delta Gift Card.

The cards are made from aluminum cut from various locations on the DC-9’s fuselage and tail. Because of the authentic nature of the materials, slight variations exist, including physical imperfections from natural wear and tear of the aircraft. As a result, each card will be unique in color, texture, and thickness. The front of the card may be white, blue, red, gray, multicolored, or metallic in color with the back being completely metallic. Each card has been protected with a clear-coat sealant.

About the aircraft

The DC-9-51 aircraft used to create these limited edition Delta Gift Cards was manufactured on Aug. 25, 1975, and began service as N920VJ with Allegheny Airlines. Eastern Air Lines changed the registration to N401EA in 1978, which was later kept when acquired by Northwest Airlines and Delta.

The tail of this DC-9 was repurposed to create the one-of-a-kind vintage reception desk now used by Delta’s Elite Services Team in the premium check-in area of Delta ONE at LAX.

Aircraft spec:
Registration: N401EA
Serial/Line: 47682/788

Top Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/

AG Prints-Lustre-Glossy-Matte-Metallic


Delta retires the first-built Northwest Boeing 747-400, will go to the Delta Flight Museum

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) yesterday (September 9) retired its pictured Boeing 747-451 N661US (msn 23719), the first Boeing 747-400 built for Northwest Airlines-NWA (Minneapolis/St. Paul). Ship 6301 was retired as  flight DL 836 from Honolulu to Atlanta according to Delta. Delta issued this story and photo of the historic last flight:

Delta logo

Ship 6301 will move to the Delta Flight Museum, where it will become the latest aircraft exhibit.

On September 9 Delta retired the first Boeing 747-400 aircraft ever delivered to a commercial airline, after its final flight from Honolulu to Atlanta.

Delta Ship 6301 made its first flight with Northwest Airlines in December 1989, and has logged more than 61 million miles, enough to make 250 trips from the Earth to the moon. Northwest later merged with Delta.

Known as the “Queen of the Skies,” the 747 is one of the most popular and recognizable aircraft in the world today. When the first 747 made its first commercial flight 45 years ago, critics thought the aircraft would soon become obsolete as designers believed that supersonic aircraft would be taking over the skies. However, the four-engine jumbo jet revolutionized the industry with its exceptional long-haul flight capability and sheer size, nearly three times larger than the largest jet flying at the time.

The 747 ushered in a new era of international travel with luxuries and, at one time, features such as spiral staircases to the upper deck and stand-alone piano bars.

The improved 747-400 featured a new glass cockpit, tail fuel tanks, advanced engines and a new interior.

747-400 model is called a “high-tech” jumbo to distinguish its advanced features from its predecessor, the “classic jumbo” of the -100 to -300 series. 747-400s have been flown from the U.S. to numerous long-haul destinations including Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Honolulu, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Manila during the past 26 years.

As Delta continues to modernize its fleet and improve its Pacific network, the airline plans to retire the remaining 12 747s in its fleet by 2017, replacing them with smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft that will enable the airline to operate a wider variety of routes, particularly in Asian markets.

The final flight of ship 6301 was flight DL 836. The full flight took off from Honolulu on time (see the video below) while the entire Delta team saw off the beloved aircraft.

Delta crew of N661US (Delta)(LR)

Above Photo: Delta. The cabin crew of the last revenue flight of N661US.

Following its final flight, Ship 6301 was welcomed home to Atlanta early on September 9.

Delta Chief 747 pilot Steve Hanlon said the 747-400 was affectionately known as “The Whale” among pilots­. “Even as large as the Whale was, it was surprisingly maneuverable and fast, typically cruising at .86 the speed of sound with close to 400 people onboard.”

Following its retirement, Ship 6301 is scheduled to take a final journey in early 2016 to the Delta Flight Museum, where it will become the latest aircraft exhibit.

Delta Flight Museum logo

Interesting the Jumbo, while with Northwest Airlines, was involved in an in-flight event. Flight NW 85 was a flight from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. According to Wikipedia, the flight experienced a rudder hardover event on October 9, 2002 when the flight was close to Anchorage, Alaska. The flight diverted to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. No passengers or crew were injured.

NWA-Northwest logo

N661US was delivered to Northwest Airlines as the launch customer of this type on December 8, 1989. Boeing originally showcased the new model as N401PW from April 29, 1988 until it was handed over to Northwest.

Top Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/ N661US taxies at Amsterdam in Delta’s colors.

Delta aircraft slide show (current livery): AG Airline Slide Show

Northwest aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/ N661US arrives at Tokyo (Narita) in Northwest colors.

Video: Video of the last takeoff from Honolulu and the historical last flight:


Part of Delta’s retired DC-9-51 N401EA lives on at the refurbished T5 at Los Angeles International Airport

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) has decided to make of horizontal stabilizer of McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 N401EA (msn 47682) “ship 9885” as part of the newly refurbished Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport.

The airline issued this statement and photos:


There’s plenty to see at Wednesday’s (June 10) unveiling of Delta’s $229 million refurbishment of Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport. But don’t miss the unusual reception desk Delta is using to honor its past by incorporating it into its state-of-the-art LAX expansion.

The three-year renovation of T5 features Delta’s first exclusive check-in area, officially named Delta ONE at LAX, and includes a dedicated curbside drop-off, a private check-in, expedited security and personalized customer services.

The T5 debut is creating excitement among media, customers and employees, including buzz about the reception desk sitting in Delta ONE. The desk is actually the top of the DC-9-51 Ship 9885 horizontal stabilizer – also referred to as the back T- tail.

Delta DC-9-51 horizontal stabilizer (Delta)(LR)

Photos above: Delta Air Lines.

Ship 9885 (above) had a long airline career and a Southern California history, befitting of its new home at LAX. Built in Long Beach by McDonnell Douglas in 1975, the DC-9 was the largest of the original DC-9 series. Delta was an original operator of the DC-9 starting in 1965.

While Delta’s Product Development and Brand Communications teams were brainstorming a concept for Delta ONE’s reception desk, the idea surfaced to fashion it out of material from a reclaimed aircraft.

The Delta team contacted MotoArt in El Segundo, Calif., just minutes away from LAX, which recycles vintage airplane parts into futuristic furniture, including beds, coffee tables, chairs and desks. MotoArt was hired to make the desk for Delta ONE.

A crew was dispatched to the Arizona desert, where the DC-9 had been resting since retirement in 2013, to dismantle the tail from the airplane and truck it directly to the studio.

“Kevin Cowart [Delta’s Manager of Asset and Project Management for Technical Operations] is in the group that manages our stored aircraft and also handles the recycling of permanently retired aircraft,” said Jeff Coons, Delta’s Manager of Customer Experience. “He was instrumental in helping us identify the airplane and ensure that the team at Marana Aerospace properly remove the tail and prepare it for transit to the MotoArt team.”

The tail was removed in March and the artistic folks at the studio did their thing.

“When I designed this piece, I wanted to truly keep the sensation of flight when you first saw it,” said Dave at MotoArt Studios. “The vertical and horizontal lines on the DC-9 wing stabilizer make it look as if it’s actually taking off. We couldn’t be happier with the final outcome.”

The reception desk sits at the entry to Delta ONE and will be used daily by the Elite Services team to assist customers who are eligible to use the check-in area.

“The design and customer experience for Delta ONE is unique and high touch – and includes several elements local to Southern California,” said Jeff. “Designing and implementing this desk is an excellent way for us to celebrate Delta’s history by using components from a retired Delta aircraft. It also brings a part of that airplane home. The DC-9 production line was just a few short miles from LAX at the Long Beach Airport and was repurposed by the craftsmen at a studio less than a mile from LAX. It’s the ultimate round-trip journey for Ship 9885.”

Top Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/ The pictured McDonnell DC-9-51 N401EA (msn 47682) came to Delta from the Northwest Airlines merger and is pictured in their colors. However the airframe was delivered new to Allegheny Airlines as N920VJ on October 10, 1975. The airliner was swapped to Eastern Airlines (1st) on November 16, 1978 and became N401EA. Both Northwest and Delta retained the Eastern registration. N401EA was retired by Delta and was flown to Marana, Arizona for storage and disposal on January 5, 2013.


Is AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ 8501 a repeat of Northwest Airlines flight NW 705?

AirAsia Indonesia (Indonesia AirAsia) (Jakarta) vanished from radar screens over the Java Sea on December 28 on a flight from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 passengers and crew members on board. Tragically there were no survivors.

Investigators have ruled out any act of terrorism. The same group has stated it was unlikely an explosion brought down the airliner. According to the preliminary reports, there were no sounds of gunfire or explosions on cockpit voice recorder. Analysis of the flight data recorder of Airbus A320-216 PK-AXC (msn 3648) operating flight QZ 8501 showed the A320 climbing at an abnormally high rate, then plunging and suddenly disappearing from radar. The A320 was climbing at a steep ascent of 6,000 feet a minute (a normal climb rate is 1,000 to 2,000 feet a minute) before it suddenly dived and crashed in the Java Sea. This is not a normal climb rate. The crew had asked air traffic control for a higher altitude due to severe thunderstorms in the area. The request was denied due to other air traffic in the area.

Read the full report from CNN: CLICK HERE

Was flight QZ 8501 trapped in the updraft of a severe thunderstorm and then it stalled and fell to the sea?

It has happened before with devastating results. Dial the clock back to February 12, 1963 over Florida’s Everglades. While the crashes of ValuJet Airlines flight 592 and Eastern Airlines flight 401 are more well known, there was a third crash in the Everglades that is very similar to the tragedy of AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ 8501. Both involved flying into severe thunderstorms.

Northwest Airlines (Northwest Orient Airlines) flight NW 705 was a regularly scheduled flight from Miami International Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. After takeoff from MIA the flight crew operating Boeing 720-051B N724US (msn 18354) encountered an approaching cold front with large thunderstorms. The crew tried their best to avoid the approaching line of thunderstorms.

The accident (from Wikipedia quoting the official accident report):

Prior to departing from Miami, the flight crew questioned the ground controller at the airport about the departure routes being used, and he replied that most flights were departing “either through a southwest climb or a southeast climb and then back over the top of it.”

After the jet lifted off from runway 27L, it made a left turn based on radar vectors from Miami Departure Control, to avoid areas of anticipated turbulence associated with thunderstorm activity. Another flight had followed the same guidance shortly before the jet took off.

While maintaining 5,000 feet and a heading of 300 degrees, Flight 705 contacted controllers and requested clearance to climb to a higher altitude. After a discussion between the flight and the radar departure controller about the storm activity, and while clearance to climb was being coordinated with the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center, the flight advised “Ah-h we’re in the clear now. We can see it out ahead … looks pretty bad.”

At 13:43, Flight 705 was cleared to climb to flight level 250. They responded, “OK ahhh, we’ll make a left turn about thirty degrees here and climb…” The controller asked if 270 degrees was their selected climbout heading, and they replied that this would take them “… out in the open again…” Controllers accordingly granted the jet clearance. Following some discussion about the severity of the turbulence, which was described as moderate to heavy, the flight advised, “OK, you better run the rest of them off the other way then.”

At 13:45, control of Flight 705 was transferred to Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center. There were communication difficulties, although after the jet was provided with a different frequency to tune to, the flight crew established contact with Miami ARTCC. Several minutes after contact was established, the jet’s altitude began increasing with a rate of climb gradually increasing to approximately 9,000 feet per minute. Following this rapid ascent the rate of climb decreased through zero when the altitude peaked momentarily at just above 19,000 feet. During this time the jet’s airspeed decreased from 270 to 215 knots and as the peak altitude was approached, the vertical accelerations changed rapidly from 1G to about -2G.

In the next seven seconds the negative acceleration continued to increase at a slower rate, with several fluctuations, to a mean value of about -2.8G, the jet began diving towards the ground with increasing rapidity. As the descent continued with rapidly increasing airspeed, the acceleration trace went from the high negative peak to 1.5G, where it reversed again.

Below 10,000 feet the forward fuselage broke up due to the forces of the dive. The main failures in both wings and horizontal stabilizers were in a downward direction, and virtually symmetrical. The forward fuselage broke upward and the vertical stabilizer failed to the left. All four engines generally separated before the debris of the aircraft fell in unpopulated area of the Everglades National Park, 37 miles west-southwest of Miami International Airport.

The accident was investigated by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) which later became the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

Synopsis of the CAB Aircraft Accident Report:

Northwest Airlines, Inc., Boeing 720B, N724US, operating as Flight 705, crashed in an unpopulated area of the Everglades National Park, 37 miles west—southwest of Miami International Airport at approximately 1350 e. s. t., on February 12, 1963. All 35 passengers and the crew of eight were fatally injured.

Flight 705 departed Miami at 1335 e.s.t. Circuitous routing was utilized during the climbout in an effort to avoid areas of anticipated turbulence associated with thunderstorm activity. At 1347 e.s.t., in response to a request for their position and altitude, the flight advised, “We’re just out of seventeen five (17,500 feet) and stand by on the DME one.” This was the last known transmission from the flight. Shortly thereafter the aircraft entered a steep dive, during which the design limits were exceeded and the aircraft disintegrated in flight.

The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the unfavorable interaction of severe vertical drafts and large longitudinal control displacements resulting in a longitudinal upset from which a successful recovery was not made.

The FAA later added in its Lessons Learned section this summation:

As the investigation of Northwest Flight 705 proceeded, other jet transports became involved in similar upsets. These pitch upset events were collectively referred to as “Jet Upsets.” This terminology was used because the phenomena appeared to be unique to the new generation of swept wing jet transports which began to enter service a few years earlier. The investigation of Northwest Flight 705, and associated similar pitch upset incidents, led to changes in operating procedures and design requirements for jet transports, as well as improved forecasting and dissemination of hazardous weather information to Air Traffic Control and Flight Crews. These actions proved effective in substantially reducing the occurrence of this type of pitch upset events.

Was QZ 8501 a repeat of NW 705?

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/ Sister ship Boeing 720-051B N737US (msn 18793) is pictured at New York (JFK).

Northwest Airlines aircraft slide show:


Delta retires three Boeing 747-400s

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) as planned, retired three ex-Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-400s on September 30:

N671US (fleet number 6311) performed its last revenue flight on September 30 from Paris (CDG) to Detroit as flight DL 99. The Jumbo ferried to Marana, Arizona on September 30 as flight DL 9950 for final disposition.

The pictured N672US (6312) performed its last revenue flight also on September 30 from Amsterdam to Atlanta as flight DL 239. The aircraft was ferried to Marana on October 1.

N676US (6316) performed its last revenue flight also on September 30 from Tokyo (Narita) to Atlanta as flight DL 269. The aircraft was ferried to Marana on October 1.

This leaves 13 remaining in active service. Another 747-400 will be retired at the end of this year leaving a dozen.

Delta has 10 Airbus A330-300 aircraft on order which will augment Delta’s existing fleet of 32 A330s. The first new A330-300 delivery is scheduled for spring of 2015, with three additional airplanes scheduled for that year, four in 2016, and the final two in 2017.

Delta will be the first airline to operate the enhanced 242-metric ton A330-300, which offers additional payload capacity and range. Delta will use the aircraft’s versatility to optimize its Pacific and Atlantic networks.

The last Delta 747-400 is likely to be retired in 2017.

Top Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/ Boeing 747-451 N672US (msn 30267) is pictured on its final approach to Tokyo (Narita). N672US was delivered new to Northwest Airlines on July 19, 1999.

Delta Air Lines (current): AG Slide Show

Boeing 747 Slide Show: AG Slide Show

Northwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Jan Petzold/ Boeing 747-451 N672US departs from the Minneapolis/St. Paul hub when it was with Northwest.


Delta retires the last DC-9-41s and the Northwest brand

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) retired the last McDonnell Douglas DC-9-41 on January 2 and thus also retired the Northwest Airlines brand.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Please click on the photo for additional details.

Delta retires the last DC-9-31/32 from scheduled service

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) has retired the last Douglas DC-9-31/32 from scheduled service. The last flight was flight DL 2106 from Detroit to Manchester, NH on September 6. A few aircraft will be retained through October as operational spares and as charter aircraft.

Previously Delta retired the type in June 1975 but inherited the type again with the merger with Northwest Airlines.

The DC-9-41s (still unpainted) and DC-9-51s (repainted) continue to operate on scheduled Delta routes.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. DC-9-31 N8929E (msn 45866) prepares to land at Minneapolis/St. Paul hub. None of the DC-9-31/32s were repainted in Delta’s colors due to the impeding retirement.

Kalitta Air acquires the 12 ex-Northwest Boeing 747-200Fs from Delta

Kalitta Air (2nd) (Ypsilanti) has acquired the retired fleet of 12 ex-Northwest Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-200F freighters from Delta Air Lines.

Copyright Photo: Roy Lock. Boeing 747-222B (SF) N645NW (msn 23736) of Northwest Airlines taxies to the cargo parking spot at Los Angeles before the merger.

Northwest Airlines agrees to price fixing

Northwest Airlines-NWA (Minneapolis/St. Paul), now merged into Delta Air Lines (Atlanta), has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $38 million fine for conspiring to fix cargo prices according to this report by Reuters.

Read the full report:


Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing. Now gone, NWA Cargo’s Boeing 747-251B (F) N632NW (msn 23112) climbs gracefully at Anchorage.