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8th Jul 2008, 02:33
Discount carrier AirTran to cut 480 pilot, flight attendant jobs

Published: Monday, July 7, 2008 | 5:08 PM ET

Canadian Press: Harry R. Weber, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA - Discount carrier AirTran Airways is cutting 480 jobs, or more than five per cent of its work force, amid difficult financial times due largely to soaring fuel prices, a company executive said Monday.
The Orlando, Fla.-based airline told employees that 180 pilot jobs and 300 flight attendant jobs will be eliminated effective Sept. 6, according to Kevin Healy, senior vice-president of marketing and planning for AirTran Holdings Inc. Flights also will be reduced in September, Healy said.
AirTran is offering an early out voluntary program for employees with at least five years of service. Eligible employees who are accepted for the program will receive six to 12 months of medical benefits and six to 12 months of flight privileges, Healy said.
AirTran has about 8,900 employees, including 1,450 pilots and 2,000 flight attendants.
Healy said there could be other job cuts at the company in the future as officials deal with oil prices that have jumped to more than US$140 a barrel. He said the hope would be to achieve any further job cuts that are necessary through attrition.
"We're looking at other areas of the company," Healy said.
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News of the planned job cuts comes after AirTran told employees Wednesday that it is seeking to cut its overall employee pay by about 10 per cent, and it warned that it may need to cut wages further in the future.
AirTran executives said cost-saving efforts the carrier has already implemented - reducing capacity by 15 per cent, cutting costs, raising $150 million in cash by selling stock, capping a portion of the company's fuel exposure with hedges, and raising ticket prices and fees - have not been enough to deal with the impact of oil prices that have doubled in the last year.
AirTran's hub is in Atlanta.