Icelandair to reduce U.S. flights by a third

Airline can't say if BWI operation will be affected

October 02, 2001|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Icelandair will eliminate nearly one-third of its flights to the United States, but it was unclear if the cutback included its daily flight at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The airline becomes the fourth foreign carrier at BWI to announce reduced flights since last month's terrorist attacks. But so far only Aer Lingus, the Irish airline, plans to end its BWI flights.

Icelandair, in its announcement Friday, did not say which routes it will eliminate. An airport spokesman said state officials are unaware of any impending cancellations.

International travel was a weakness at BWI even before Sept. 11, and all six international carriers at the airport have now announced cutbacks or pleaded for a government bailout.

The terrorist attacks have sparked a sharp decrease in demand for air travel. Domestic service at BWI will likely suffer the most consequences, particularly with the announced closure of US Airways' Metrojet subsidiary.

Aer Lingus flights out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport are to halt by Oct. 28.

Air Canada, which operates six daily flights from BWI, announced a 20 percent reduction in its schedule last week. Calls to the carrier were not returned yesterday.

British Airways eliminated 10 percent of its flights last week. The only change announced for BWI was the movement later this month of its one daily flight's British terminal, from London Gatwick Airport to London Heathrow Airport.

Air Jamaica got an $8 million subsidy from the Jamaican government last week to cover its losses, and officials for Ghana Airways told a Ghanaian radio reporter that the airline "will certainly need to be bailed out."

Icelandair flies one daily flight between BWI and Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, and also serves Boston, New York, Minneapolis and Orlando, Fla.

Icelandair flies more passengers through BWI than any of its other airport stops in North America. BWI spokesman John White said the airport has heard "nothing but good news" from the airline.

Icelandair also has not said how many jobs might be lost at its North American headquarters in Columbia, which employs about 80 people. The company expects to trim about 13.5 percent of its work force throughout Europe and the United States.

"We have been forced to take actions that will get us through this difficult period of time," said Icelandair's North American manager, Gunnar Eklund, in announcing the cuts.

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