CHICAGO/SINGAPORE - The top two US airlines have joined giant aircraft maker Boeing in announcing sweeping job cuts, bringing to almost 100,000 the number of aviation jobs lost since attacks on the United States last week drastically reduced air travel.
US airlines warned of possible bankruptcy unless the US government acts swiftly to provide some $US17.5 billion in financial aid.
"The company is going through cash at an alarming rate," US Airways Chairman Stephen Wolf told the company's annual meeting in Virginia. "We have got to get our costs down dramatically if we are going to be here tomorrow."
In Washington, lawmakers scrambled to put together a rescue plan for the airlines, which Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said could be ready early next week.
The No. 2 US carrier, United Airlines, which has already cut its flight schedule by 20 per cent to about 1900 daily flights, said it would slash about 20,000 jobs, or about 20 per cent of its workforce.
United chairman and chief executive officer James Goodwin said he is working with other North American carriers, government officials and lawmakers on a relief package.
"Without this relief, the viability of the nation's air transportation system is in doubt. It is as serious and straightforward as that," Goodwin said in a statement.
AMR Corp. said it would layoff at least 20,000 people at its American Airlines, American Eagle and TWA units.
The airline industry has been rocked by the plunge in travel and increased security costs since hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Airline executives and industry experts had predicted 100,000 jobs would be lost from the downturn in air travel.
The world's biggest airplane maker, Boeing Co., yesterday said it would lay off between 20,000 and 30,000 workers -- up to 15 per cent of its work force -- as it girded for a sharp drop in orders. One of its biggest customers for airplanes, China, said that it would proceed with an order for 30 Boeing jets.
Chicago-based Boeing cut its forecast for aircraft deliveries and said the downturn could run into 2003 as US airlines reduced flight schedules.
America West Holdings Corp. said Wednesday it was one of several airlines that may be forced to file for bankruptcy unless Congress quickly provides financial aid to the industry.
"... several airlines are anxiously watching these proceedings and if something can't be done would very likely be forced to file bankruptcy in a number of days," America West Chief Executive Douglas Parker told a House Transportation Committee hearing. "America West is one of those several airlines."
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