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MAC to consider revisions to NWA debt agreement

A revised hub-and-headquarters agreement between the state’s airports commission and Northwest Airlines‘ new owner appears to be taxiing closer to takeoff.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission today will consider n

A revised hub-and-headquarters agreement between the state’s airports commission and Northwest Airlines‘ new owner appears to be taxiing closer to takeoff.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission today will consider new proposed changes to a pact it made with Northwest in the 1990s, which helped the airline finance bond debt in exchange for a promise to keep a hub and headquarters in the state.

Delta Air Lines, which acquired Northwest Airlines last year, plans to close its Eagan headquarters within a few years. The current pact would force Delta to repay $245 million in debt immediately, rather than waiting until 2016.

Delta prefers to revise, rather than break, the agreement. A proposal is outlined in agenda handouts for today’s Commission meeting. (Click on Agenda/Handouts and go to page 45).

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Under the proposed agreement, Delta would make up for the loss of Northwest’s headquarters by:

• Guaranteeing a minimum of 400 departing flights per day from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. At least 250 of those flights would need to be on aircraft with 70 or more seats.

• A minimum 10,000 jobs would stay in Minnesota until the debt is paid off in 2016. Main offices for Mesaba and Compass airlines would be based here. Other jobs would be at data centers, reservation centers and pilot training centers.

• Other clauses include a committment by Delta to maintain “substaintial civic involvement in and support for non-profit entities and causes.”

The MAC meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. today.