MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Northwest Airlines flight to Tokyo finally took off Saturday morning – 43 hours late.

Mechanical problems and a lack of a crew had kept the Boeing 747-400 on the ground since its scheduled departure time of 3 p.m. Thursday.

The delay was not caused by the airline’s mechanics’ strike, which began Aug. 20, Northwest spokeswoman Jennifer Bagdade said.

“Northwest experienced mechanical issues prior to the strike and we continue to experience them today. So this isn’t new,” she said.

Passengers were kept on the plane for a total of nine hours over a 24-hour period, said airline spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch. Bagdade said Northwest tried to rebook all the passengers on other flights, but many of those flights were full.

When the plane finally left on the more than 12-hour-long flight, it carried about 100 fewer passengers than its original 365.

Northwest apologized to the passengers and will pay for two nights’ worth of food and lodging and plans to give them $700 in travel certificates.

“It’s certainly an unfortunate delay,” Ebenhoch said. “We regret the inconvenience; we apologize. We work hard to avoid this. It happens to other airlines as well.”

On the Net:

Northwest Airlines: http://www.nwa.com

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