July 4, 2008

American Airlines to Cut About 6,800 Jobs

By Randolph Heaster, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

Jul. 4--American Airlines, the nation's biggest carrier, could eliminate more than 6,800 jobs later this year as the industry tries to survive record fuel costs.

A union official at American's overhaul base in Kansas City said the nature of the work here may protect most of the local work force from the job cuts.

AMR Corp., the parent of American and regional carrier American Eagle, said that it will cut domestic service 11 to 12 percent by the fourth quarter, which becomes a systemwide reduction of 8 percent when including international flights.

In a memo to all employees, AMR said the employment reduction will be commensurate with the capacity cuts.

AMR has about 85,500 employees, which means an 8 percent decrease would be about 6,850 workers.

The company is working on how this will affect specific work groups, and the reduction will include voluntary programs to try to minimize the involuntary layoff, said Jeff Brundage, AMR's senior vice president of human resources, in the memo.

Brundage also noted that AMR already has announced that the management and support staff will be decreased by 8 percent in September. American's flight attendants learned earlier this week that they will lose 900 people starting Aug. 31, a 5 percent decrease.

American has about 1,000 employees in Kansas City, including about 840 mechanics and related workers at the airline's maintenance base.

Gordon Clark, president of Transport Workers Union Local 530, said he believes the overhaul base should see little effect from the layoff given the planes that are maintained there.

The Kansas City base works on American's Boeing 757 and 767 fleets, which so far have not been affected by American's pullback plans. American said in May that it will retire 75 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s from its fleet following the busy summer travel season.

"I think we're at somewhat of an advantage given the seniority we have and given that we don't work on the MD-80s," Clark said. "We might not see a great impact from this in the short term."

American's announcement is the latest furlough announcement in the airline industry, which also is trying to raise fares and fees to cope with record fuel prices.

Other announced staff cuts include 4,000 at Delta Air Lines, 3,000 at Continental Airlines, 2,550 at United Airlines and 1,700 at U.S. Airways.

To reach Randolph Heaster, call 816-234-4746 or send e-mail to [email protected]


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