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Rumors/News Du Jour: Spirit and United Both Face Huge Downsizing

2 separate bits of news & rumor I’m putting in 1 post:

Spirit sent a letter to employees saying that they may have to lay off 60 percent of flight attendants and 45% of pilots. In the letter they mention that they may have to close their LaGuardia base for flight attendants. This morphed into stories that they would be canceling flights to LaGuardia – that is not true (um, yet). Spirit responds that no decisions have been made. In any case, it’s far worse over at Spirit than they’ve let on.

And United will eliminate 94 737s, 6 747s and shut down TED (no love lost there) in the next year.

If you hadn’t figured it out yet, fuel is quickly destroying the industry in the US. We’ll hear more shrinkage announcements like these in the coming weeks.

(Quick update:  The full details can be seen here, but the big news is really that mainline capacity will shrink by nearly 18% between 2007 and 2009.  A bit of that will be taken up by Express flying, but by the end of 2009 United will have about 13% fewer seats available for domestic flights than they did in 2007.  As I’ve mentioned here before, too much shrinkage is also a bad thing, as you need domestic flying to feed those profitable international hub flights.  It’s a delicate balance – and since we’ve never seen anything like the fuel costs we see now, we’re in uncharted waters.  That said – if you’re a big hub-and-spoke airline hemorrhaging cash, what are you going to do?)

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