Checchi the Savior
Re David Pasztor's article ("Checchi's Checkered Record," Nov. 5): I would like to provide a different perspective. As a Northwest Airlines (NWA) frequent flyer and former Minnesota resident, certain aspects regarding the takeover of NWA should be noted. Prior to the takeover by the Checchi group, NWA had purchased Republic Airlines. This merger proved a public relations/assimilation nightmare for employees and customers alike. The previous management of Northwest created enormous ill will with the flying public and among the employee groups. Northwest, with its cash flow, real estate, etc., was indeed ripe for a takeover. Had the Checchi group not prevailed, Northwest would have been purchased by another airline or a corporate raider such as Carl Ichan. Layoffs and the sale of assets would have resulted, Minnesota would have probably lost its second largest employer, and one less competitor would remain in the industry.
The Checchi group admittedly made mistakes. However, as your article states, factors such as the Persian Gulf War, the recession, etc. contributed to the severity. Northwest under the Checchi group improved employee morale that suffered after the Republic merger, gave employees an ESOP for their wage concessions, provided buddy passes, avoided permanent layoffs, set up one of the best Frequent Flyer programs in the industry, negotiated open skies with the KLM partnership, and restored wages at the end of the concession period. The stock employees received for their wage concessions was issued at a price around $12 per share; this stock is worth up to four times that level now.
Rather than presenting Checchi as a raider, I would offer his accomplishments as someone who utilized the tax code and merger mania of the late '80s to acquire a company [whose] management had not adapted to modern times, a man who procured the talent to keep Northwest intact, avoided layoffs, improved customer service, and marshalled the financial resources necessary to keep the airline afloat. Northwest is now very predictable, debt has been paid down, and the efforts of American Airlines' predatory pricing to drive its competitors out of business failed with respect to NWA.
Riff Raff Finally Gets the Support It Needs and Deserves
Since you seem to be getting some flack, I just wanted to voice one vote of approval (mine) to Riff Raff's persnickety and very funny lambasting of Joel Selvin, among others ("Ethical Laundry," Riff Raff, Oct. 29). It's also nice to see you and the Guardian taking potshots at each other, a sign that the Weekly finally has an editorial slant of its own.
Shouldn't Scott Jenerik have gotten credit or at least had his name mentioned SOMEWHERE in Matt Smith's article ("The Sound of Noise," Nov. 12) or on the cover of the Weekly? Pretty weak.
Editor's note: Jenerik is identified and quoted in the article, on Page 29.
A Knipl for Your Thoughts
Just a note to say how much I appreciate Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. Since the much-lamented demise of Smarter Feller! (whom I hope you can one day lure out of retirement), Julius Knipl is what makes your paper worth picking up.
Also, there can never be too many Princess Di jokes, so I hope you will unearth some more ("Princess Di Update," Slap Shots, Sept. 24). I will always read your paper cover to cover if I believe one might be hidden in it.