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DELTA CUTS WON'T AFFECT SERVICE TO V.I.

Sept. 27, 2001 – The news nationwide Wednesday was that Delta Air Lines plans to cut 13,000 jobs and reduce its flight schedule by 15 percent starting Nov. 1.
The news in the territory was that the cutbacks would not affect service to the Virgin Islands.
A call by the Source to Delta's corporate offices in Atlanta Wednesday afternoon brought word that St. Thomas will not be losing any flights. Airline representative Alicia Watson said the current daily service between Atlanta and the island will remain in place, and the company will add a second daily flight Nov. 1 — a usual move at the start of the winter tourist season in years past.
Other Caribbean destinations will be suffering cuts, Watson said. "We've had to eliminate flights to the Turks and Caicos Islands," she said, and service to San Juan has been cut back from five daily flights to four.
The information was conveyed to Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel Association, at a Rotary II luncheon where he was the guest speaker. After delivering a state-of-the-industry address that found little cause for optimism in the current tourism picture, he brightened at hearing the news. "Now that's a good thing," he said. In the next breath, he added that he was not without compassion for the Turks and Caicos' loss of service. "It will hurt," he said.
The overall service cuts announced by Delta, the nation's third largest airline, include a 50 percent slash in its Delta Express operation, which primarily serves the Florida vacation market. The employee layoffs represent 16 percent of the airline's total work force. According to CNN, the airline "is hopeful that most but not all of the reduction will be accomplished through a series of voluntary departure programs, including buyouts, early retirement and long-term leaves" of one to five years.
Delta officials said the airline will be discounting tickets in an effort to attract customers back aboard its planes. On its currently reduced schedule, the airline is flying at about 33 percent to 35 percent of its passenger capacity, about half of what's needed to break even, Delta CEO Leon Mullin said Wednesday.
Besides cutting prices, Mullin said, the company in considering offering 10,000 free or "extremely low-priced" tickets to get people to visit New York.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Delta became the last of the nation's six major airlines to announce staff cuts that now approach 100,000 industry-wide. Seventh-ranked Southwest Airlines, rated as the industry's most profitable company before Sept. 11, is the only major carrier that has not announced a personnel reduction.
As of Wednesday, the announced layoffs by U.S. carriers were: American, TWA and American Eagle (jointly owned) 20,000, United 20,000, Delta 13,000, Continental 12,000, US Air 11,000, Northwest 10,000, America West 2,0000 and other, smaller airlines 1,600. That put the total at 97,800.
Jean Etsinger contributed to this report.

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