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About Northwest Airlines

Northwest Timeline

Northwest Airlines, the world's fifth largest airline, operates hubs in Amsterdam, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, and Tokyo; as well as focus cities in Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Northwest Airlines and Northwest Airlink operate a fleet of over 600 aircraft including the Boeing 747-400, the world's second largest passenger airliner. Northwest Airlines and its partners fly to more than 900 cities, in more than 160 countries, on six continents.


Northwest Airlines (or Northwest Airways as it was known then) was started in 1926. They were based in Minneapolis and flew mail to a number of cities including Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Madison.

Northwest Airways changed their name to Northwest Airlines but promoted themselves as "Northwest Orient" until 1986 to emphasize their strong presence in Asia. That strong presence in Asia continues today, as they are the second largest airline in Japan.

In 1985, Northwest Orient announced a merger with another Minneapolis based airline, Republic Airlines. After the merger with Republic, Northwest began operating the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and MD-82 as well as more Boeing 727s. Republic's 757 fleet was sold to America West Airlines as its engines were not compatible with Northwest's 757s. Northwest also gained a hub in Memphis.

Northwest fell into financial trouble not long with the merger with Republic. They were taken over by Wings Holdings, a group headed by the Minneapolis investor, John Dasburg. One of the first moves Dasburg made was creating the world’s first airline alliance with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

1995 was the year of Northwest's Initial Public Offering (IPO). The stock symbol they chose was NWAC (now NWACQ). In 2001, John Dasburg left the company to become the CEO of Burger King. The company’s CFO, Richard Anderson, took over the controls.

On April 3, 2003, Northwest revealed their brilliant new livery. On the fuselage, the initials "NWA" are large, with "Northwest Airlines" written smaller below. On the tail, is half of the Northwest compass logo.

In September 2004, Northwest joined the Skyteam alliance along with partner airlines Continental and KLM. In October 2004, Richard Anderson left the company to become the CEO of United Health Group. The president of Northwest Airlines Corporation, Doug Steenland, chose to take the position of CEO.

On September 14, 2005, Northwest Airlines voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Northwest Airlines and Northwest Airlink will continue to honor tickets, vouchers, and frequent-flier miles. For more information on Northwest Airlines' restructuring, visit:


Northwest Operates one of the best maintained fleets of aircraft in the world with over 400 aircraft including Boeing 757s & 747s; Airbus A319s, A320s, and A330s; and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and DC-10s. Northwest also has partnerships with Mesaba Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines to operate Northwest Airlink flights.

Skyteam Alliance

Northwest is a member of the Skyteam Alliance, the world's second largest airline alliance. Other Skyteam members include Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Korean Air. More information on SkyTeam can be found at SkyTeam's website,

WorldPerks Frequent Flier Program

Northwest's WorldPerks frequent flier program is one of the most generous in the skies. In addition to SkyTeam partners, WorldPerks members can earn and redeem miles on the following airlines: Air Alps, Air Europa, Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, American Eagle (Only within California), Big Sky Airlines, Cebu Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Copa Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Gulfstream International Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Horizon Air, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Kenya Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Malév Hungarian Airlines, and Midwest Airlines.

Information correct as of June 1, 2006.

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