Northwest Airlines has arranged for a Portland, Ore., utility to buy the Pan Am Shuttle and allow Northwest to operate the shuttle with an option to buy, according to a published report.
Northwest would not comment on the report in The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said PacifiCorp would buy the Boston-New York-Washington shuttle for about $150 million."We can't comment on that as to whether we are in negotiations or struck a deal," said Doug Miller, a spokesman for Northwest, the nation's fourth largest airline. "There's no announcement to make and we don't have any comment on it."
PacifiCorp and New York-based Pan Am also declined to comment.
PacifiCorp is the third-largest utility in the West, holding Pacific Power of Portland and Utah Power of Salt Lake City. A subsidiary, PacifiCorp Financial Services Inc., has $1.7 billion in assets and has interests in 50 aircraft. It reported a 1989 aviation finance portfolio of $244 million, spokeswoman Caroline Petrich said.
PacifiCorp Finance Inc., a subsidiary of PacifiCorp Financial Services Inc., took preliminary steps nearly two years ago to acquire HAL Inc., the parent of Hawaiian Airlines. The deal never was completed.
Marc Robins, an analyst who follows PacifiCorp for Capital Consultants Inc. of Portland, said he was unaware of the PacifiCorp-Northwest-Pan Am deal. But he said it sounded like a good opportunity for PacifiCorp Financial Services.
The Portland company's interest likely would remain purely financial, he said. PacifiCorp executives probably are not interested in running an airline, Robins said.
The Journal, quoting unidentified sources familiar with the arrangement, said union leaders were told this month that a sale was imminent but later were told it had been delayed.
Leaders at three Pan Am unions could not be reached for comment. No one answered phones in their offices.
Guy Cook, head of the largest union at Northwest, said he knew nothing about the reported deal. But he said such an acquisition could make sense for Northwest.
"I've heard a lot of rumors about an East Coast shuttle," said Cook, president of Lodge 143 of the International Association of Machinists. "I knew there was an interest, and from a shuttle standpoint for Northwest, there would be no problem."
Cook said Northwest might be able to run the shuttle without adding a lot of workers because it already has bases in New York, Boston and Washington. He speculated that Pan Am could use the cash from a shuttle sale to stay afloat and clear the way for a proposed buyout by Trans World Airlines Inc.