Target launches line of Shaun White sports apparel; also: Northwest registers fewer complaints, and Cargill campus expanding

Arriving just in time for the Beijing Olympic Games, a new line of Target clothing by snowboard and skating phenom Shaun White will hit shelves later this month. The clothes include shorts, T-shirts and hoodies that reflect a “love for skateboarding, music, art and travel.” White, who is nicknamed “the Flying Tomato” because of his mop of red hair, won a gold medal for snowboarding in 2006.

Early-summer fliers registered fewer complaints about Northwest Airlines than they did a year ago, according to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Customers filed 41 complaints about Northwest in May, which is down from 54 complaints in May 2007. The airline’s ratio was 0.92 complaints per 100,000 passengers it served. The average for major carriers was 1.09. Delta drew more complaints in May than any other airline, with 127, or 2.14 per 100,000 passengers.

More Northwest news:
A recent Aviation Week article speculated that Northwest’s cutbacks in Europe “could be a bad portent for network carriers that have been relying on their shift to more international service to bolster their bottom lines.” Northwest said fuel prices and decreased demand prompted it to suspend its Minneapolis-Paris service over the winter and cancel two other trans-Atlantic routes from Detroit and Hartford. The lack of low-fare competitors has made international routes an attractive area for growth by the fuel-squeezed major carriers.

An analyst I spoke with, however, cautioned against reading that much into the airline’s retreat. Bob McAdoo, senior airlines analyst for Avondale Partners, said the routes Northwest cut or suspended were relatively new and still in the developmental phase. Fuel costs may have changed how long the airline would wait them out. “It’s no different than if you ran Home Depot. You’ve got some stores that work and some stores that don’t work. And at some point, you decide I don’t want to waste my money waiting for this store to become profitable.”

A new office building sprouting at Cargill‘s office complex will be more than knee high by next Fourth of July. Finance & Commerce reports that the growth of the Hopkins-based agricultural giant is leading to the expansion of its headquarters at Highway 169 and Excelsior Boulevard. The Excelsior Crossings center, being developed by Opus, is now slated to have three buildings totaling 796,000 square feet. The first building is scheduled to be complete by July 2009, and the third is scheduled for completion by March 2010.

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