MAC Considers Giving Revenue to Northwest

In which the Lindbergh terminal comes to resemble a stadium

The Metropolitan Airport Commission today is considering a proposal wherein it would pass on to tenant airlines $181 million in concession "rebates" between 2006 and 2020. In short, Northwest would get to shore up the bottom line using cash the airport collects from car rental companies, food stands, and so forth. In exchange, Northwest would agree to operate a "hub" at the airport until 2020.

Wait--isn't that what Northwest promised back in the early '90s, when it borrowed $270 from the MAC? Why yes, yes it is.

Except that back then, Northwest had a slightly better pitch: Keeping the hometown airline here was important because it was one of the state's biggest and best employers, providing secure union jobs with good benefits. Yeah, those jobs. The ones that ultimately proved too much of a drag on the bottom line and had to be eliminated.

The best paragraph of the Star Tribune's critical coverage of the proposal needs no comment:

MAC documents and interviews with airport officials show that one of the incentives behind the proposal is to ensure the airport recoups a big subsidy it granted Northwest in the 1990s. Northwest still owes $262 million on the $270 million it borrowed from the MAC 15 years ago. MAC officials say the latest subsidies would ensure repayment of that loan.