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Twin Cities airport to raise fees for NWA

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- A planned increase of $10.8 million in the fees Northwest Airlines Corp. pays at the Twin Cities airport is moving forward as planned.

Northwest, which filed for bankruptcy protection Sept. 14, had asked the Metropolitan Airports Commission to delay the increase in landing, ramp and gate fees. The MAC's 12 commissioners said Wednesday they would work with Northwest on its financial problems.

Northwest pays the MAC $113 million per year in fees, rent and loan payments. The airline is scheduled to pay the MAC $22 million next year on a $269 million loan from 1992, and $3.8 million on a hangar the MAC built in 1988 for Northwest.

MAC spokesman Pat Hogan said that if Northwest rejects those payments in bankruptcy court it would blow a $25 million hole in the MAC budget.

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Northwest's domestic capacity has been cut by 10 percent to 13 percent, and Northwest workers are taking pay cuts, so getting a break on the fee didn't seem like too much to ask, said Andrea Fischer Newman, Northwest's senior vice president for governmental relations.

Newman said Northwest wanted a delay until it could restructure its agreements with the commission.

The increase comes from an agreement with the airlines in 2000 to defer until next year payments they agreed to make to pay for some of the airport's $3.1 billion expansion, which included spending for things such as additional gates.

Hogan said the airlines have essentially been using those new facilities without helping MAC pay for them. The commission has provided $51.1 million in deferrals and rate breaks for airlines since 2000, he said.

Northwest and its regional carriers lease 101 of the airport's 127 gates. Northwest also leases office and parking space, maintenance facilities and hangars at the airport.

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