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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Aviation firms axe 26,000 jobs
Shorts factory
Shorts: 800 jobs axed, with another 1,100 in doubt
Aviation firms, thrown into "crisis" since the terrorist attacks on the US, have announced a further 26,000 job cuts.

Air Canada has blamed the "catastrophic" downturn in trade stemming from the attacks for a decision to add a further 5,000 job losses to 4,000 announced last month.

Delta Air Lines, the US's third largest carrier, announced it was axing 13,000 jobs and reducing capacity by 15%.

And in the aerospace sector, hit by fears of a downturn in orders, Canada's Bombardier said 3,800 jobs will go.

Northern Ireland-based Shorts, which is controlled by Bombardier, axed 800 jobs, and warned that it may cut a further 1,100 posts early next year unless orders pick up.

Other aviation firms announcing schedule or workforce cuts included Air Austria and Gulf Air, while Scandinavian airline SAS revealed plans to axe 1,100 posts.

Textron, which makes helicopters and Cessna plans, added 2,500 cuts to 5,000 already announced.

US jobs toll hits 100,000

The moves come amid a sector downturn which Air Canada admitted had reached "crisis" proportions.

Job cuts attributed to terror attacks
Boeing: 30,000
AMR: 20,000
United: 20,000
Delta: 13,000
Continental: 12,000
US Airways: 11,000
Northwest: 10,000
BA: 7,000
SwissAir: 3,000

In the US alone, the number of jobs cut by airlines has exceeded 100,000, president and chief executive Robert Milton said.

While Air Canada has now set to eliminate one quarter of posts, the carrier warned that the cuts announced on Wednesday, alongside service reductions and the mothballing of 84 planes, may not be the last.

"Unfortunately, we cannot be certain that even these job and capacity reductions will be sufficient to weather the storm," Mr Milton said.

"We will reassess the need for further capacity and employee reductions as the worldwide airline industry crisis unfolds."

The International Air Transport Association on Wednesday estimated that the trade downturn would cost carriers $7bn this year, assuming a 15% drop in international air travel following the attacks.

This year is set to become only the second since World War II that air traffic has declined, the association said.

Fight for survival

Delta's job loss announcement leaves Dallas-based Southwest Airlines as the only major US carrier yet to reveal workforce and schedule reductions.

"The operational and financial outlook for airlines has changed precipitously," said Leo Mullin, Delta chairman and chief executive.

"War was declared on the US, using aviation as the instrument of destruction... drastic measures are required if we are to avoid being among the first economic casualties of the war."

Union anger

The statement came days after US President George W Bush agreed a $15bn rescue package aimed at shoring up the country's airlines.

Delta, which estimated it had lost $1bn since the attacks, is earmarked to receive $600m of government aid.

And in the UK, the government has agreed to an insurance deal to fill a gap in war liability cover for airlines, to help keep planes in the air and limit the impact of the sector's downturn.

At Shorts, union leaders questioned how bosses could quickly cut jobs when the implications on trade of the turmoil stemming from the terror attacks could not be fully assessed.

"We will be asking some serious questions about how the company got from a solid order book and good prospects to 2,000 job cuts in two short weeks," said Roger Lyons, general secretary of the Manufacturing Science and Finance union.

The Belfast-based firm, which employed 7,600 people ahead of Wednesday's announcement, builds fuselage and engine coverings for a range of Bombardier aircraft.

See also:

26 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Aerospace firm axes 800 jobs
25 Sep 01 | Business
Alitalia cuts 2,500 jobs
24 Sep 01 | Business
Airlines rush for government help
22 Sep 01 | Business
Airline insurance deal 'not subsidy'
23 Sep 01 | Business
Airlines receive $15bn aid boost
21 Sep 01 | Business
Airlines threaten to stop flying
20 Sep 01 | Business
EU considers aid for airlines
19 Sep 01 | Business
US airlines lose 40,000 more jobs
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