US Airlines Cut Flights, Staff after Attacks
US airlines have been hit hard in the aftermath of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon by hijacked aircraft, with many announcing they were cutting flights and staff -- and one warning they all faced bankruptcy.
The chief executive of Continental Airlines, Gordon Bethune, told reporters his company was laying off a fifth of its workforce -- around 12,000 people -- and predicted a total of 100,000 would be laid off across the industry.
"The patient is dying very quickly," the New York Times quoted him as saying on Saturday.
"We are all going to be bankrupt before the end of the year."
Four of the biggest US airlines -- American Airlines, United Airlines, Northwest and Continental -- issued statements Saturday saying they were each reducing their long-term flight schedules by 20 percent.
"The reduction is in direct response to the current and anticipated adverse impact on air travel due to Tuesday's terrorist attack," United said in its statement.
Domestic and international air travel through US airports was shut down for two days immediately after four aircraft -- two from American Airlines and two from United -- were hijacked Tuesday and turned into lethal, fuel-laden missiles.
Two of the planes sliced into New York's World Trade Center, causing the building to collapse and killing an estimated 5,000 people. Another smashed into the Pentagon, damaging the nerve centre of the country's military. The fourth crashed in western Pennsylvania.
Although flights started resuming Thursday and by the weekend were running at about half their normal number, many planes plying domestic legs were largely empty, passengers deserting the skies out of fear.
Airlines said some companies had also warned their employees against using US carriers, cutting into the all-important category of business-class travelers -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)