Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's No. 3 carrier, ended days of suspense Wednesday by announcing it would cut 13,000 jobs and reduce its flight schedule by 15 percent as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
With the cuts, Delta joins every major U.S. air carrier except Southwest Airlines Co. in slashing jobs and schedules in the aftermath of the attacks by hijacked airliners that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon outside Washington.
The attacks led to the shutdown of U.S. commercial aviation for two days, the introduction of costly security measures, and left many too afraid to fly. Congress and President Bush approved a $15 billion aid package for airlines earlier this week in an effort to stave off bankruptcies.
Delta's job cuts come on top of about 100,000 jobs cuts already announced so far by the ten biggest U.S. carriers.
Last week, American announced it would to lay off at least 20,000 employees; United, 20,000; and Northwest, 10,000. Also, Boeing announced it was laying off up to 30,000 employees by the end of next year.
Atlanta-based Delta last week had said it would be unveiling job cuts as part of moves to reduce the size of its operations by 15 to 20 percent.
"I think it speaks to the overall magnitude of the tragedy,'' said Leo Mullin, Delta chairman and chief executive. "We have to go back to the point that this was an act of war committed on America using aviation as the method of destruction.''
He said Delta's average daily passengers are about 140,000, compared with its normal load of 300,000. On Sunday, the No. 3 airline carried 207,000 passengers, he said.
Mullin said the airline expects its share of $5 billion in direct aid from the federal government to provide only short-term financial relief. Delta had operating revenues of $16.7 billion in 2000.
Mullin also announced he would forego his salary for the remainder of the year -- just as Continental Airlines announced Chairman and Chief Executive Gordon Bethune and President Larry Kellner had decided not to take any compensation for the rest of the year.
Continental said Bethune made about $5.5 million and Kellner made about $3.7 million in 2000.
The carrier said it expects a significant number of the job cuts over the next few months to come through voluntary programs, ranging from one-year leave to voluntary severance and early retirement.
Delta said it has also instituted a broad recovery plan that includes freezing all hiring, eliminating discretionary spending and cutting capital expenditures. The airline is also examining reducing food service, entertainment options and other items on many flights.
As part of its schedule reductions, Delta said it would suspend 50 percent of its Delta Express service. It will also suspend through March flights from JFK Kennedy Airport to Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Munich, Dublin, Shannon, Ireland, Cairo, Zurich and Brussels.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.