15,000 at 3 big airlines to quit, avoid firing

Leaves, retirements to cut staff at Delta, Continental, USAir

October 27, 2001|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

ATLANTA - Delta Air Lines Inc., US Airways Group Inc. and Continental Airlines Inc. said yesterday that more than 15,000 workers offered to leave the companies, reducing the firings the carriers would need to make because of reduced demand caused by the Sept. 11 attacks.

More than 10,150 Delta workers applied for early retirement, voluntary leaves and severance programs as the third-largest airline seeks to pare 13,000 jobs, said Cindi Kurczewski, a spokeswoman at the carrier's Atlanta headquarters.

About 2,000 US Airways' union workers agreed to leave the sixth-biggest carrier, said David Castelveter, an airline spokesman. US Airways, based in Arlington, Va., plans to cut 11,000 jobs.

Continental, based in Houston, said 3,500 workers volunteered to leave the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, which is cutting 12,000 jobs.

After the attacks, the airlines said they would have to dismiss more than 92,000 workers to survive, though some employees might take early retirements or extended leaves with benefits.

US Airways workers who leave voluntarily will keep insurance and travel benefits and may return in up to three years, Castelveter said.

US Airways worked out the plans with the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Communications Workers of America and the International Association of Machinists.

Delta's cuts represent 16 percent of its work force of 80,000 people. The programs offered to noncontract workers have components such as flight and insurance benefits, Kurczewski said. Delta will decide later which offers to accept, she said.

Workers had to apply for the airline's voluntary programs by yesterday, and the signup period for the early retirement plan ends Monday, she said.

The early retirement program is open to workers 52 or older with 10 years of service, Kurczewski said.

About 7,031 employees signed up for the voluntary leave or severance and 3,149 had applied for early retirement as of late yesterday.

The shares of US Airways Group, the parent of the airline, fell 9 cents to $4.85, while Delta dropped 13 cents to $23.92. Both companies are to report earnings next week.Continental fell 20 cents to close at $18.10.

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