EAGAN, Minn. (AP) _ The Transportation Department approved a settlement with Northwest Airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.

Under the settlement, which was approved by an administrative law judge on Feb. 11 and became final Wednesday, Northwest agreed pay a $75,000 penalty and invest $550,000 in improving services for disabled passengers

In agreeing to the settlement, Northwest did not admit or deny the charges.

Northwest has said most of the money will go toward extra staffing to help passengers in wheelchairs at the airline's hubs and installing assist bars in the lavatories of its new Airbus A330 jets.

The penalty will be further reduced if the number of disability-related complaints filed with the department regarding Northwest drop by 15 percent this year compared to 2001.

``Our action in this case will provide a strong incentive for all carriers to comply with our rules, while also providing direct assistance to passengers with disabilities,'' Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said.

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On the Net:

Settlement: http://dms.dot.gov (docket numbers OST-01-10598 and OST-00-6951)

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