Saturday, September 28, 2002

Flight attendants face 1,500 layoffs

Delta continues to struggle with weak economy

By James Pilcher,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Delta Air Lines Friday confirmed that it had told its flight attendants that as many as 1,500 could be laid off in the coming months, as the company and industry continue their financial struggles.

        Delta employs more than 1,000 flight attendants at its second-largest hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. It has about 16,000 systemwide.

        The news came as the nation's No. 3 carrier said it was expecting a net loss of $225 million for the current quarter, which ends Monday.

        “We have been very open about the fact that we have difficult decisions to make,” Delta spokeswoman Kristi Tucker said. “This is just the beginning of that process.”

        The news of layoffs was hardly a shock. Delta chairman and chief executive officer Leo Mullin, as well as company president and chief operating officer Fred Reid, said last week that job cuts could be coming if the industry didn't rebound soon.

        Company officials told flight attendants of the probable layoffs Thursday, setting the 1,500 figure as a preliminary estimate.

        Ms. Tucker stressed that no time frame was given for when cuts would start.

        The company's flight attendants overwhelmingly voted against unionizing under the Association of Flight Attendants in February, although the union has protested the results, saying Delta used unfair campaign tactics.

        Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks last year, the carrier eliminated nearly 11,000 positions, mostly through voluntary buyouts and retirements, including about 800 local jobs.

        The company also initially said it was laying off 1,700 pilots, but later revised that number to 1,400, of which about 800 have lost their jobs.


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