updated 6/12/2005 5:38:50 PM ET 2005-06-12T21:38:50

Northwest Airlines Corp.’s chairman has sold nearly 60 percent of his stake in the company, or about 2.5 million shares, since mid-May, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gary L. Wilson shed more than 1 million of those shares last week. Wilson owned about 4.29 million shares at the beginning of May.

Documents filed Friday show that as of Wednesday, his holdings dropped to 1.74 million shares. The latest shares were sold between $6.16 and $6.64 per share and are part of a trading plan Wilson filed in April. His first sale, 50,000 shares on May 13, was at $5 per share.

Wilson is seeking to diversify his holdings, and remains the airline’s largest single private investor, Northwest spokesman Bill Mellon said.

Wilson, 65, became chairman of Eagan-based Northwest in 1997. He is also a board member of The Walt Disney Co., Yahoo Inc. and CB Richard Ellis Inc., the commercial real estate company.

Like other airlines, Northwest has been losing money since 2001. Northwest lost nearly $458 million in the first quarter of 2005 and $878 million last year. The company is also in tense labor negotiations as it tries to cut $1.1 billion in annual worker costs.

Northwest shares closed Friday at $6.33 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has traded between $4.20 and $11.83 over the past year.

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