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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 14:09 GMT
US blogger fired by her airline
By Jo Twist
BBC News science and technology reporter

Queen of the Sky in uniform
Since her firing, the images have been reinstated on her site
A US airline attendant suspended over "inappropriate images" on her blog - web diary - says she has been fired.

Ellen Simonetti, known as Queen of the Sky, wrote an anonymous semi-fictional account of her life in the sky. She was suspended by Delta in September.

In a statement, she said she was initiating legal action against the airline for "wrongful termination".

A Delta spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that Ms Simonetti was no longer an employee.

Delta has repeatedly declined to elaborate on what it calls "internal employee matters".

A spokesperson reiterated this position on Wednesday, confirming only that Ms Simonetti was no longer with the company.

The spokesperson also confirmed that there were "very clear rules" attached to the unauthorised use of Delta branding, including uniforms.

Ms Simonetti announced on her blog she had been fired on 1 November.

Fictional names

She said in an official statement: "As a result of my suspension and subsequent termination without cause by Delta Airlines I am moving forward with filing a discrimination complaint with the Federal Government EEOC [US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]."

She added she had also hired a Texas-based law firm to initiate legal action for "wrongful termination, defamation of character and lost future wages."

Ms Simonetti told the BBC News website she had received no warning or further explanation when she was suspended on 25 September.

Queen of the Sky has received a lot of support and advice from the global blogging community since news of her suspension was brought to light on the BBC News website and others.

Screengrab of Queen of the Sky's website
Ms Simonetti's site was part-fictional and anonymous
Her story has highlighted concerns amongst the growing blogging community about conflicts of interest, employment law and free speech on personal websites.

The blog, which she started in January as a way of getting over her mother's death, contains a mix of fictional and non-fictional accounts.

Queen of the Sky developed over the months as a character in her own right, according to Ms Simonetti.

In the postings, she made up fictional names for cities and other companies she mentioned to protect anonymity.

But some postings contained images of herself in uniform. Of the 10 or so images only one showed Ms Simonetti's flight "wings". She removed them as soon as she was informed of her suspension.

"I never meant it as something to harm my company and don't understand how they think it did harm them," Ms Simonetti said.

A legal expert in the US speculated that Delta might be concerned that the fictional content on the blog may be linked back to the airline after the images were posted.

Financial turbulence

Delta has been hit recently by pressures of rising fuel costs and fierce competition. It has said it needs to cut between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs and reduce costs by $5bn (2.7bn) a year.

Analysts had warned recently that the airline might have to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy prevention.

Last week, it struck a $1bn cost-cutting deal with its pilots which could save it from bankruptcy.

The deal would see pilots accept a 32% pay cut in return for the right to buy 30 million Delta shares, unions said.

And on Monday, it negotiated a deal to defer about $135m in debt which was due next year, until 2007. The airline also said it had agreed the terms of a $600m loan from American Express.



SEE ALSO:
Delta 'reaches $1bn costs deal'
28 Oct 04  |  Business
Blogger grounded by her airline
27 Oct 04  |  Technology
London 'call girl' gives up blog
17 Sep 04  |  Technology
Teenagers reach out via weblogs
06 Jun 04  |  Technology
All over for blogs?
08 Aug 03  |  Technology
A blog for everyone
22 Jul 03  |  Technology


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