September 15, 2001 12:41 PM

Amid increasing fears that the current world crisis could strike a heavy blow to the American and global economies, Continental Airlines, the nation’s fifth largest airline, quoted loss figures of $30 million per day and said on Saturday that it would immediately shrink its long-term flight schedule by about 20% and lay off about 12,000 employees. Northwest Airlines, the nation’s number four carrier, also said it was trimming its schedule by 20% and is reviewing its number of staff. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Saturday that President Bush was “concerned” about the financial problems facing commercial carriers in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly attacks, though the administration stopped short of backing a multibillion-dollar plan to shore up the airline industry’s bank accounts during this sudden new squeeze in passenger loads and revenue flow. In a separate statement from the Teamsters on Saturday, James Hoffa, president of the largest union of transportation workers in North America, has requested a meeting with the president to “ensure the stability of the nation’s air transportation system,” reports Reuters.

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