Northwest Retires Its Boeing 727 Fleet

Northwest Airlines today announced that it retired the last aircraft of its Boeing 727 fleet from scheduled service when flight 560 arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Denver at 9:38 a.m., CST.

Northwest began operating the three-engine 727 aircraft in 1964 with the original 727-100, an earlier and shorter version of the 727-200 aircraft retired today. Its 727 fleet eventually grew to as many as 92 727s. In June 1999, Northwest announced that it would retire its 727-200 fleet and replace it with quieter, more efficient Airbus A319s and A320s. The airline currently operates 76 A320s and 57 A319. With 133 aircraft in total, the A320/319 is now the airline’s second largest fleet type.

“Replacing the Boeing 727 with the A319/A320 aircraft family provides customers with added space and comfort, reduced noise levels in the communities we serve, and allows Northwest to operate a more cost-efficient and reliable fleet,” said Tim Rainey, senior vice president flight operations and System Operations Control.

Because the A319 and A320 are members of one aircraft family, training and scheduling of flight and cabin crew for both aircraft types is nearly identical, creating efficiencies for Northwest. The aircraft similarities also allow Northwest to seamlessly replace one aircraft with the other to adjust to customer demand and meet maintenance requirements.

Simplifying fleet types is an important step in Northwest`s continuing cost reduction efforts. Transiting from five domestic fleet types to three including the 757 (-200 and -300), Airbus A319/320, and DC-9 (-10, -30, -40, -50), will move Northwest closer to achieving its goal of becoming the lowest operating cost major hub and spoke air carrier in the United States.


Northwest retired its DC10-40 fleet late last year.

Rainey added, “The Boeing 727 served us well at Northwest. It was a great pilot’s aircraft and played a significant role in the development of today`s commercial air transportation system by enabling all-weather jet service to smaller communities. The 727 was among the first of the passenger jet aircraft able to arrive and depart on shorter runways than the first commercial jetliners such as the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.”

The 727 entered service in 1964. Boeing built 1,832 aircraft through 1984.
Northwest Airlines is the world`s fourth largest airline with hubs at Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, Tokyo and Amsterdam, and approximately 1,500 daily departures. With its travel partners, Northwest serves nearly 750 cities in almost 120 countries on six continents. In 2002, consumers from throughout the world recognized Northwest’s efforts to make travel easier. A 2002 J.D. Power and Associates study ranked airports at Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul, home to Northwest’s two largest hubs, tied for second place among large domestic airports in overall customer satisfaction. Business travelers who subscribe to OAG print and electronic flight guides rated as the best airline Web site. Readers of TTG Asia and TTG China named Northwest “Best North American airline.”

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