Northwest Announces Voluntary Leave Programs

Northwest Airlines today began notifying its flight attendants of voluntary leave programs designed to match the size of the flight attendant workforce to the forecast level of flying for 2002 and 2003.

In response to the events of September 11, 2001 and the significant reduction in demand for air travel, Northwest trimmed its workforce to match the reduced level of flying. To achieve that reduction in the flight attendant workforce, the airline used a combination of voluntary short-term leaves and 300 furloughs.

The new temporary leave programs run between one and twelve months and permit employees to retain seniority and recall rights. The programs also provide travel benefits, but not company-sponsored health care.

Northwest’s level of flying has not yet fully recovered, and the previously granted leaves are expiring in the coming months. Therefore, the carrier is introducing new voluntary leave programs with the objective of reducing its flight attendant payroll by up to 1,600 people. If a sufficient number of voluntary leaves are not obtained, additional flight attendant furloughs will occur.

Doug Steenland, president, said, “The entire industry continues to suffer the impact of a drop in travel demand as the result of September 11, 2001. The new flight attendant staffing requirements are reflective of Northwest’s anticipated level of flying.”


“We hope that a sufficient number of flight attendants will take leaves in 2002 and 2003, so we can minimize additional furloughs,” he added.

Northwest Airlines is the world`s fourth largest airline with hubs at Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, Tokyo and Amsterdam and more than 1,700 daily departures. With its travel partners, Northwest serves nearly 750 cities in almost 120 countries on six continents.

For more information pertaining to Northwest, media inquiries can be directed to Northwest Media Relations at (612) 726-2331 or to Northwest’s Web site at