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US Airways to cut 600 airport positions

| Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS — US Airways is cutting 600 ground jobs this fall as it continues to struggle with the slow economy.

The airline said on Tuesday that the biggest cut will be 340 customer service agents around the country, who will lose their job on Sept. 14. Other layoffs come from closing its Las Vegas US Airways Club on Sept. 13 and reducing staffing at its club in Phoenix.

The airline will also shut its walk-up ticket counter at its headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., its last counter outside an airport.

US Airways also said it will shift to outside contractors for ramp service work at nine airports around Oct. 5, mostly those served by US Airways Express regional carriers. The airports are Austin and El Paso, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Burbank and Long Beach, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee; and Omaha, Neb.

Capacity cuts combined with a more efficient operation will make it possible to operate with fewer customer service agents, US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said.

"We're running a more efficient airline than we have in years past," he said.

Employees who will lose their jobs were informed on Tuesday, according to a memo laying out the cuts written by Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom.

He wrote that the company had hoped staff numbers would fall through retirements and departures for other jobs. But he wrote that attrition has fallen sharply from last year, and the airline needs to shrink faster.

Cuts to the flight schedule and the addition of fees beginning last year have helped, he wrote. "Today's economy demands we continue to look for ways to control costs."

US Airways is also asking 400 flight attendants to take voluntary furloughs in an effort to avoid layoffs in that group.

Airlines in the U.S. have been struggling with plummeting business travel, and US Airways executives have said passenger revenue has fallen further than after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. carriers are expected to report another round of losses beginning with American Airlines parent AMR Corp. on Wednesday. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are expecting US Airways Group Inc. to report a second-quarter loss of some $88.5 million, or 80 cents per share, on July 23.

US Airways shares fell 7 cents, or 3.3 percent, to close at $2.04.

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