Northwest CEO: Fares likely to rise if oil prices don't fall

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The CEO of Northwest Airlines says travelers will probably pay higher airfares next year if fuel prices don't fall.

In an interview in Monday's Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Doug Steenland says high oil prices will be the chief challenge facing carrier in 2008.

And he says that if airfares go up to reflect fuel prices, there will be fewer passengers.

Northwest expects to earn more than $700 million this year, and Steenland anticipates it will remain profitable in the coming year.

While the weak U.S. dollar may depress leisure travel to Europe, Steenland says the impact on Northwest is mitigated by its partnership with KLM. He says the weak dollar may result in a higher percentage of Northwest and KLM passengers coming from Europe.

Northwest has a hub at Memphis International Airport.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)