Northwest to furlough fewer pilots than expected
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Northwest Airlines will furlough 300 fewer pilots than first expected and also recall some part-time reservation agents to cope with more questions from customers following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, an airline spokesman said on Monday.
Northwest (NasdaqNM:NWAC - news), the nation's fourth largest airline, expected to furlough as many as 850 pilots over a nine-month period into next June after an erosion in air traffic following the attacks that killed nearly 3,300 people.
However, after Northwest completed a complex process to determine pilot preferences for aircraft, route and schedule, the airline found it could reduce the number of furloughs to 550 by April, spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said.
The airline plans to recall 312 part-time telephone reservation agents laid off in September, Ebenhoch said.
``We are experiencing high call volume as a result of fare restructuring, flight schedule changes and also because the average length of calls has increased,'' Ebenhoch said.
Most major U.S. airlines slashed schedules and laid off thousands of workers to cope with reduced passenger traffic after the attacks. There have been scattered recalls since.
Last week, Delta Air Lines (NYSEAL - news) and its pilots announced a tentative deal that would let pilots schedule a month-long leave at partial wages to help the airline cut costs.
About 11,000 of the 13,000 layoffs at Atlanta-based Delta have been through voluntary leave or early retirement. Delta is the third largest airline in the United States.
Northwest cut nearly 20 percent of its staff, or about 9,500 workers, after the attacks. It also took some jets out of service when it cut the airline schedule, including aging 727s and DC-10s.
Spoke yesterday with an individual at NWA crew management. He said people don't realize how short this furlough is going to be. When I asked him to elaborate just a bit, he said it will be much shorter than people are expecting. I then said I heard rumors that everyone may be back by end of summer. He replied it shouldn'd be that long. Take it for what it's worth but I'm optimistic. G'Luck. SCHWANKER