Northwest winter service secure
December 13, 2005
Northwest Airlines has finalized its winter schedule into Aspen, which may give travelers added confidence as they book flights with the financially struggling airline.A statement Tuesday from a Northwest spokesman only confirms what the airline has been telling local resort officials all along – that its service to Aspen is secure this winter – but it counters published remarks about the certainty of the Northwest flights to Aspen made by a Mesaba spokesperson last fall. Mesaba Airlines operates the Northwest Airlink service to Aspen.”We have finalized our schedule through April 2. We will continue to offer that service through this ski season,” Northwest Airlines spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said Tuesday.The airline will have the aircraft that are necessary to operate the route through April 2, Ebenhoch said.From Dec. 15 through Jan. 3, Northwest will offer two flights daily between Aspen and Minneapolis, and up to three flights on Saturday and Sunday, along with one daily link from Memphis.From Jan. 4 through Feb. 15, the airline plans the same flight schedule from Minneapolis, but weekly service from Memphis, with a flight arriving on Saturday and departing on Sunday.From Feb. 16 through April 2, Northwest service will hit its peak with two flights daily Monday through Friday from Minneapolis and four connections on Saturdays and three on Sundays, according to Ebenhoch. One connection daily from Memphis is scheduled Monday through Friday, with two flights into Aspen on Saturdays and two flights departing Aspen for Memphis on Sundays.The final schedule is reassuring, according to Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a local reservations agency and the resort’s liaison to the airline industry. Tomcich said he has been advising travelers they can book Northwest flights confidently after receiving assurances from Northwest executives that the airline would honor its winter service schedule to Aspen. Northwest’s commitment, however, conflicted with reports that the airline might drop its lease deal this month for jets in its fleet, including the aircraft that serve Aspen.”That was a lingering question mark,” Tomcich said. “This is an assurance that this winter’s service is sure and intact.”Northwest has filed for bankruptcy, as has Mesaba Airlines. The bankruptcy protection allows both airlines to cancel long-term contracts, and Northwest had indicated it would drop its lease arrangement for the jets that Mesaba flies in and out of Aspen.