Northwest Airlines to cut 4,900 jobs

Saturday, March 22, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines said Friday it will cut 4,900 jobs and reduce its flight schedule by 12 percent because of a drop in passenger demand because of the war in Iraq.

Northwest said it was making the moves as it idles 20 planes.

The airline cited "a drop in passenger demand due to both the threat of and now the commencement of hostilities with Iraq."

"As world events unfold, Northwest will continue to monitor passenger demand to determine whether additional actions are necessary," it said.

Other carriers also are reducing flying schedules and staffing as a result of the war.

United Airlines said Friday it will reduce its flight schedule by about 8 percent and lay off a yet-to-be-determined number of employees because of the war. The world's second-largest airline, which declared bankruptcy in December, gave no details on personnel cut, but union officials said about 2,300 flight attendants and 1,150 mechanics were among those being put on leave.

American Airlines, the world's No. 1 carrier, said Thursday it will cut international flights by 6 percent in April to meet a downturn in travel bookings due to the war in Iraq and could make additional reductions if traffic remains slow.

Earlier in the week, Continental Airlines announced it will cut its work force by about 1,200 people by the end of the year to save $500 million. The company said more layoffs are planned if war with Iraq is prolonged and air travel remains soft.

Northwest said it would make the cuts through layoffs, attrition, voluntary leaves and by leaving open positions unfilled.

A relief package will be offered to the affected employees, the airline said.

The cuts include 2,000 mechanics, 1,400 flight attendants, 250 pilots and 300 management positions, said Paul Volker, legislative officer for the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association Local 33.

Northwest already had laid off about 12,000 employees due to the slump in the airline industry.

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