A few days after a runway crash that killed eight people, Northwest Airlines officials - and industry observers - bemoaned what they called a bad-luck streak for a carrier with an otherwise good safety record.
Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, earned the nickname "Northworst" during a 1987-1988 epidemic of lost baggage and late flights.And Monday's crash on a foggy runway in Detroit came just three years after 156 people died when a Northwest MD-80 crashed after taking off from the same airport.
The two were the only fatal accidents in 27 years at the Eagan-based carrier, said Christy Clapp, Northwest spokeswoman.
Aside from the crashes, the airline has had a spate of performance and labor problems, including the conviction of three pilots for flying while intoxicated.
"I think they've had an awful lot of problems, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a carrier without them right now," Mike Hamilton, a Minneapolis-based airline analyst, said. "I don't think their plagues have been any worse than any of the other major airlines."
Ivar Siqveland, a partner at Bloomington-based Travel Professionals, said it's been months since he's heard a negative comment about Northwest from agents in his company's seven travel offices.
Clapp said Northwest officials had expected a downturn in reservations following Monday's crash, but reservation rates were normal throughout the week.
In the latest U.S. Transportation Department rankings, Northwest was third among 12 U.S. carriers tracked by the agency for on-time performance. Northwest flights were on time 85.5 percent of the time, and the airline had fewer than two baggage complaints for every 1,000 customers.