The Northwest Airlines pilots strike entered its third day Monday after a weekend of would-be Northwest passengers at Salt Lake International Airport scrambled to find alternative flights.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis-based airline, which has four daily weekday flights out of Salt Lake City, said people with Northwest tickets are being rerouted on any available airline.Nationwide, Northwest carries some 150,000 travelers per day, making it the country's sixth-largest airline.
Although the strike is proving to be a major problem in areas of the country where Northwest is virtually the only airline in operation - the stretch of states between Michigan and North Da-kota is particularly hard hit - the effect at Salt Lake International, where it usually carries about 400 passengers per day, has been muted, with no picketing pilots nor long lines of stranded passengers.
"There have been canceled flights, but it's not something the Airport Authority has measured," said authority spokeswoman Barbara Gann. She said Northwest had ticket agents working through the weekend and other airlines volunteered to help travelers find alternatives.
"We feel badly for the people affected but there hasn't been a huge impact locally," said Gann.
Not like there would be if it were Delta Air Lines, the dominant carrier at the airport, that was canceling all of its flights. Delta instituted special ticketing procedures for Friday and Saturday but as of Sunday had reverted to its normal interline ticketing procedures, which would remain in effect unless Northwest were to request that Delta extend the special procedures.
Northwest spokesman John Austin said the airline did not have specifics on the number of people who have been stranded by the strike but termed it "gratifyingly low."
American Airlines, Trans World Airlines and United Airlines Sunday added additional flights to help soften the blow. Train, bus and rental car companies also beefed up their operations to try to provide some relief.
TWA said it will continue a strategy it launched Saturday to deploy larger aircraft on its flights in the Minneapolis/St. Paul to St. Louis market, adding some 85 seats per day. The airline said it will examine other options of the strike continues through the week."
That seemed quite likely on Monday, with neither the airline nor the pilots' union expressing hope for a quick settlement or even when they might start talking again.
A White House spokesman told the Associated Press Monday that if the strike extends to Labor Day (Sept. 7) it may reconsider its decision not to intervene in the dispute and order a 60-day "cooling off" period as it did last year when pilots walked out on American Airlines.
Northwest pilots went on strike at midnight Saturday over issues of job security and pay. Northwest said its last offer would have paid the average pilot $150,000 per year by the end of the contract in 2002, more than the average pay at American, United and Delta.
But the airline's 6,100 pilots say the company has misrepresented the value of its offer because the other airlines are likely to have new contracts by 2002.