Air Transport World

CASM matters.

The pilots' strike that shut down Northwest Airlines at the end of August provides an unpleasant reminder of a few basic truths about this industry. The first is that organized labor still wields a lot of clout, a fact reinforced days later, when Air Canada's pilots went on strike and shut down their airline.

The second is that even in the face of strong demand that has pushed load factors-and profits-to record levels, costs still matter. Give Northwest its fair share of blame for permitting contract negotiations to drag on for two years, until positions hardened to the point where compromise became impossible. But at least they have learned from history: The Minneapolis-based airline helped to establish a pattern of ever-more generous U. …

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