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American to Cut Workers at RDU: Airline’s Reductions to Affect 35 of 500

July 12, 2008

By Jonathan B. Cox, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

Jul. 12–American Airlines plans to cut about 7 percent of its staff at Raleigh-Durham International Airport to trim costs as the carrier contends with rising fuel prices and a weakened economy.

The reductions, part of about 6,500 job cuts worldwide, will affect roughly 35 of the 500 people who work for American and American Eagle at RDU, said spokesman Tim Smith. The cuts, which will take place through early retirement, layoffs and other programs, are expected to occur by Sept. 5.

Workers in a variety of positions will be displaced, though airport agents and fleet service clerks likely will bear the brunt of cuts at RDU.

“It is quite clear that we can no longer operate our airline at its current levels,” Kevin Cox, American’s vice president for state and community affairs wrote in a letter to state officials, as required by law, announcing the plan.

“We must quickly reduce our operating schedule for the coming months and, as a result, will need fewer people to operate the airline,” he continued.

American has announced that it will reduce capacity about 8 percent systemwide by the fall. The company, like almost every major U.S. airline, is struggling as operating expenses soar. Carriers have cut unprofitable routes, removed planes from their fleets and tacked on extra fees in an effort to reverse mounting losses.

At RDU, American and American Eagle have announced an intention to end nonstop service to six destinations, including Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville, Fla. The frequency of other flights, including those to Columbus, Ohio, and Washington will be reduced.

“The bottom line is we will become smaller at the airport in Raleigh-Durham,” Smith said.

American also operates a call center in Cary that employs about 1,125. No job cuts are planned there, Smith said.

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