Fresh evidence of the airline industry's woes emerged Tuesday as US Airways announced it plans to lay off 600 employees at airports in its network.
None of the cuts will be in Charlotte, the airline's largest hub. But the cuts underscore the tough conditions airlines face, even as planes are packed with summer travelers and fuel prices have fallen from last year's record highs.
The culprits now are a drop-off in business travelers — who typically pay the highest fares — and a credit squeeze that has left companies with few options to raise money. As a result, some analysts believe that unless the economy starts improving, airlines could be headed for another round of bankruptcies and mergers, or at least more severe cutbacks in flights.
The job cuts of ground staff announced Tuesday come after US Airways last month asked 400 flight attendants to take voluntary furloughs to avoid layoffs. In a note to employees, Robert Isom, the chief operating officer, said Tuesday that the layoffs of ground staff are necessary because too few employees left the company voluntarily after the airline cut flights earlier this year.
Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways operates nearly 90 percent of daily flights in Charlotte, its largest hub. Nearly 6,100 of its 33,000 employees are based here.
US Airways reported last week that despite its flights' being nearly 87 percent full in June – a record for the month – its passenger revenue per available seat mile, a key industry measure, was down about 20 percent. Scott Kirby, the airline's president, blamed weaker demand for business travel, which led to more seats' being filled by leisure travelers who typically spend much less for tickets.
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