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MINNEAPOLIS — Northwest Airlines Inc. remains committed to Japan despite the prolonged recession and the fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and is busy expanding operations at Narita airport, executives of the airline said.

Northwest plans to fly 184 times a week out of Japan during the peak traveling period this summer; 149 of those flights will take off from Narita — the most ever for Northwest.

Northwest has made more flights between Japan and the United States than any other airline, and has just doubled the number of flights on the Narita-Detroit route from seven a week to 14, taking advantage of its new state-of-the-art terminal in Detroit.

“We’re committed to Japan and we’d like to see the economy of Japan get going again,” said Executive Vice President Philip C. Haan in a meeting with reporters at Northwest’s headquarters here.

Haan, in charge of international sales and information services, flatly denied the possibility Northwest might move its Asian hub elsewhere. But he also complained about the notoriously high cost of using Narita airport. He said the cost of using Japanese airports is twice that of Hong Kong International, the next most-costly airport in the world, and three times that of John F. Kennedy International in New York, which he says is the most expensive in the U.S.

“Frankly, what frustrates us is (that) there is almost no transparency for us to see and understand what really are the cost of operations in Narita,” he said.

The Sept. 11 attacks badly damaged almost all airline companies. Northwest was no exception — it posted a net loss of $171 million for the first quarter of this year.

Although the company had lost about 20 percent of its seat capacity at one time, about 5 to 6 percent of it has already returned, Haan said.

Recovery, however, has so far been driven mainly by leisure travelers buying relatively low fares, and profitability hasn’t fully recovered.

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