Chairman of Northwest, 4 Aides Resign

From Times Wire Services

Northwest Airlines Chairman Steve Rothmeier and other top executives have resigned, the leader of the carrier's largest union and a radio report said today.

Guy Cook, chairman of the International Assn. of Machinists District Lodge 143, said he was informed of the resignations this morning by Los Angeles businessman and new owner Alfred Checchi. He said Checchi did not name the executives who have resigned.

"Checchi told me there have been some resignations at the upper level," Cook said. "I assume that Rothmeier is one of them. He (Checchi) emphasized that he did not push anyone out."

Minneapolis radio station WCCO-AM said a source told a reporter there that the resignations occurred Wednesday and that Rothmeier was among those quitting.

Checchi led an investment group that purchased NWA in June for $3.65 billion. The group includes Washington, D.C., merchant banker Fred Malek, a finalist in 1987 for the top job at United Airlines, a position that went to Stephen Wolf.

Analysts speculated at the time of the buyout by Checchi's group that Malek would replace Rothmeier as chief executive. However, Checchi repeatedly said he wanted Rothmeier to continue to lead the airline.

4 Others Named

Northwest spokesmen would not confirm nor deny the report. Others reported to have resigned include John Horn, president and chief operating officer, Benjamin G. Griggs Jr., executive vice president of NWA Companies, Allan Pray, executive vice president-international, and William Sitter, executive vice president-administration and chief information officer.

Rothmeier oversaw the 1986 acquisition of Republic Airlines and led management's fight against a hostile takeover bid of Northwest early this year by oil billionaire Marvin Davis. The battle ended in June, when Checchi's group completed its all-cash buyout of the carrier for $121 a share.

Checchi repeatedly had said he wanted Rothmeier to continue to run the carrier, the nation's fourth largest.

In March, NWA's board approved a severance package that would pay Rothmeier more than $2 million if he were to leave the airline.

Rothmeier, 42, joined Northwest in 1973 and held a number of executive posts before being named president and chief operating officer in 1983. He became chief executive officer and chairman in 1986.

Rothmeier's term as chairman was marked by long contract battles with the airline's three principal unions, but he leaves with all three groups under long-term pacts.

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