Northwest Airlines’ plans for a new regional subsidiary all hinge upon a May 3 tally of votes cast by its pilots on a new tentative contract that would allow the unit, called Compass Airlines, to fly regional jets certified to hold up to 76 seats. Northwest hopes to launch the operation next month with a single 50-seat CRJ200 flying twice daily between Minneapolis and Washington Dulles International Airport. Within five years it plans to field at least 36 Bombardier CRJ900s or Embraer 175s, which would fly many of the routes formerly flown with Avro RJs by Mesaba Airlines.
The airline has filed for permission to use the operating certificate of Independence Air’s defunct FLYi subsidiary for the new unit. Northwest has named its CFO, Neal Cohen, to the posts of Compass chairman and CEO. It has also hired several ex-Independence Air executives to fill key management positions.