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Northwest seeks MSP expansion

By Joshua Freed

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines and Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday outlined their plan for a major expansion of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that would give Northwest and its partners control of nearly all the gates at the main terminal.

The $860 million expansion would run through 2020.

Northwest had said in June it wanted to move nonpartner airlines, including American and United, over to the smaller Humphrey terminal. But the prospects for that were unclear until Pawlenty endorsed the plan Tuesday.

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Pawlenty said the expansion would help bring competing airlines to Minneapolis and give Northwest room to grow here. Northwest chief executive Richard Anderson focused on the expansion part of the plan.

"We are building facilities to accommodate these airlines, as well as others who want to come," Pawlenty said, his voice echoing through the nearly-empty terminal. The Humphrey terminal gets sparse use outside of the winter travel months.

Northwest, which makes 80 percent of the flights out of the airport, had said it would like to have the main Lindbergh Terminal for itself and other airlines in the SkyTeam alliance, which includes Continental and Delta as well as regional carriers Mesaba and Pinnacle.

But the plan calls for moving non-SkyTeam airlines, including American and United, to the smaller Humphrey Terminal, which has few amenities compared with the dozens of shops and restaurants at the larger terminal.

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