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Delta To Cut More Jobs

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Delta Air Lines will impose another round of capacity cuts and trim more jobs next year as it struggles with a worldwide recession that is sapping demand for air travel, the carrier said Tuesday.

Domestic capacity will be down 8 to 10 percent, and international capacity will fall 3 to 5 percent, compared with 2008, the airline said in a letter to employees.

The airline offered no hint of the possible consequences to Salt Lake City International Airport, where Delta has its Westernmost hub and employs 3,900 people. Spokesman Anthony Black said that information isn’t available yet.

It’s likely, however, Salt Lake will see some impact in the months ahead. Since January, the airline has ended routes to 16 destinations from the hub and has scaled back flying to another 16 destinations. It has also launched flights to Paris and plans to start service to Tokyo next year.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann wasn’t surprised that Delta announced more capacity reductions.

“I think it [was] anticipated as they continue to align the schedules of both airlines after the merger [of Delta with Northwest Airlines on Oct. 29] and in light of the economic times we are dealing with,” Gann said.

All told, domestic and international capacity will be pared as much as 8 percent, the airline said. The cuts will be atop a 13 percent capacity reduction that Delta said last June it would implement by the end of this year.

“Once again, Delta must take
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the necessary steps to adjust our business and make certain seat capacity meets customer demand,” said the letter, signed by CEO Richard Anderson and President Ed Bastian.

The airline is analyzing the impact on Delta’s 75,000 employees and will offer “voluntary programs” to reduce its payroll, according to the letter, which did not say how many workers it wants to shed.

Earlier this year, Delta shed 4,000 people from its payroll by offering optional severance packages.

At the time, Delta was grappling with record fuel prices, its biggest expense. Since then, fuel prices have plunged more than 65 percent. Today, the world’s largest carrier is coping with a worldwide economic crisis that is causing passengers to curb their travel.

“We have seen a fairly significant drop-off in demand, which started for us, [at] some point in October, Bastian said at a Credit Suisse Global Airline Conference in New York.

“If you look at history, we’ve never seen the level of demand destruction that some are forecasting for our business,” Bastian said.

Delta’s stock closed at $8.47 per share Tuesday, up 51 cents.

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