USAir eliminates more than 300 positions at BWI

May 15, 1991|By Maria Mallory

With USAir planning 3,585 layoffs as part of a major restructuring, the airline's Baltimore-Washington International Airport operation was bound to feel its share of the pain.

Now that the May 2 furlough deadline has passed, the preliminary numbers are in: More than 300, roughly 10 percent, of the jobs in Baltimore were axed by the Arlington, Va., airline, according to company spokesman David H. Shipley.

USAir, which counted the positions that were eliminated -- not necessarily people who will actually lose their jobs -- eliminated 172 customer-service positions, about 118 flight attendant jobs, and about 27 mechanic and utility positions, Mr. Shipley said.

Some of those jobs already may have been vacant or recently may have been left by workers who transferred to alternate locations to avoid being let go, he said.

The number of pilots who will lose their jobs has not yet been determined, Mr. Shipley added. "It could take until the end of the year until all the pilots that are going to be affected are out of a job," he said.

USAir's unions have worked to keep the pain to a minimum.

The Association of Flight Attendants, for example, negotiated an tTC extended leave of absence program. It permits union members to temporarily leave their positions for a six- or 12-month stint, with the promise of employment afterward.

"It's one year without pay, but you continue to accrue seniority," explained Joseph L. Hooper Jr., president of Local Executive Council 87 of the flight attendant's union.

With the program, instead of 67 Baltimore-based flight attendants losing their jobs, 18 actually have been furloughed, Mr. Hooper said.

The carrier's maintenance department, which comprised 200 workers before the layoffs, was trimmed by 20, said Winston A. Rubie, president of Local Lodge 846 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

All 20 of those workers relocated to USAir facilities at other locations where USAir added positions, Mr. Rubie said. "We tried to work out with the company where they would need manpower," he said.

Still, moving from Baltimore may not ensure job security.

"They might eventually get affected [by the layoffs], but they won't be affected from Baltimore because they relocated to other locations," he said.

USAir Group Inc. announced plans to cut jobs in February, following a 1990 loss of $454 million.

In an effort to reduce expenses, the company began a systemwide cost-cutting program. It cut back on flights, consolidated maintenance facilities, retired airplanes and abandoned unprofitable markets.

USAir's daily jet traffic at BWI, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of the flights in and out of the airport, was sliced to 124 flights a day from the pre-restructuring total of 151. Before the latest round of layoffs, the company employed 2,825 in Baltimore.

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