Case Analysis: Northwest Airlines and the Detroit Snowstorm Essay

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(Case Analysis: Northwest Airlines and the Detroit Snowstorm

1. What exactly went wrong? How bad was this situation? Ans: There was a snowstorm on Saturday, January 2nd, which was very serious and caused over 10 inches of snowfall. Northwest Airlines had been too late to halt the departure of their planes from other cities to Detroit, on of its largest hub. They made the decision to let 30 planes land in Detroit on Sunday, neglecting those 14 inches of snow and the severe weather condition. Luckily, all the planes were landed successfully without any major accidents or disasters. However, the planes had to sit on the tarmac for over 8 hours before they could deplane their passengers. All the food, water and drinks were used up
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Other airlines had claimed that they had not received any call from Northwest Airlines regarding the situation nor asking any help from them. Also, the situation could be mitigated if Northwest Airlines had integrated stairs on their planes. Spirit Airlines had in fact safely deplane their passengers using the integrated stairs. The passengers were then immediately taken into waiting rental car company buses to the terminal. The Northwest Airlines could borrow the appropriate mobile passenger stairs from another airline to mitigate the situation, but they had not considered to do so. 3. Who is responsible and why? Was the cause of this situation an “act of God” (the weather) or some organization? If an organization was responsible, which was it? Ans: The Systems Operations Control (“SOC”) group had to be responsible for this situation. They are the one responsible for monitoring and coordinating Northwest Airline’s response to schedule problems and any other potential problems. On Saturday, January 2nd, Northwest Airline’s Chief Dispatcher had already suggested that the conditions were bad enough to justify a shutdown of NWA’s operations. However, the director of the SOC department insisted to carry on the departures due to given that conditions were still above legal minimums. He was the one to decide the NWA’s operations at Detroit should continue, although he did reduce the number of arrivals from 39 to 25 per
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