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More US Airways Layoffs

US Airways plans to lay off 471 more pilots by May to offset rising fuel costs and continued weakness in the airline industry.

The bankrupt airline previously said it would lay off 286 pilots by next month. The planned cuts — 326 by Jan. 7 and another 145 by May — would mark a 30-percent reduction in pilots since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said the Air Line Pilots Association.

If all the furloughs go through, the Arlington, Va.-based airline will have trimmed about 1,800 of 6,000 pilots it had before the attacks.

"They are cutting pilots to the point where it reaches people who have been here 15 years," said Roy Freundlich, a spokesman for the pilots' union. "That's a tremendous hit when you cut like that."

U.S. Airways also plans to furlough 915 more flight attendants by December, although most would be voluntary.

The airline has cut nearly 2,700 flight attendants and the latest layoffs would trim the airline's flight attendants by 3,675, a 37-percent drop from the 10,000 working on Sept. 11, 2001.

"There's definitely not enough (flying) time to sustain the flight attendants here. ... Nobody is filling the seats," said Pamela Hook, vice president of the Association of Flight Attendants' master executive council.

Hook and other union officials have said they don't expect many layoffs because more than 915 flight attendants volunteered to be furloughed.

On Tuesday, airline officials told creditors they would need to trim annual costs by up to $1.6 billion a year — nearly $400 million more than previous estimates — to return to profitability.

U.S. Airways previously said it needed to reduce its annual costs by $1.2 billion a year to become a profitable venture. Last year, US Airways lost $2.1 billion on revenue of $8.3 billion.

Company attorney John W. Butler Jr. told creditors that the airline already has achieved $1.3 billion in annual savings, mostly by renegotiating labor contracts.

While the airline promised not to seek additional contract concessions from its labor groups, the pacts did not protect employees from layoffs and furloughs.

"The airline continues to be faced with the difficult decision of implementing additional furloughs brought on by the prolonged industry recession and the steady drop in revenues impacting virtually every major carrier," airline spokesman David Castelveter said in a statement.

"While these decisions are consistent with our restructuring plan and our goal of returning US Airways to profitability we recognize the impact it will have on employees and their families," Castleveter said.

US Airways has also reduced its fleet from 300 to 279 jets and has room under contracts to wean its fleet to 245 planes.

Company officials said no decision has been made to reduce the fleet size below 279, but said it is a possibility.