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US Airways shutting its Boston crew base

Part of plan to cut 1,000 jobs, focus on hub airports

By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / October 29, 2009

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US Airways said yesterday it is shutting down its Boston crew base May 2, part of a plan to focus on hub cities and eliminate 1,000 jobs nationwide in the first half of next year.

US Airways, the third-largest carrier at Logan International Airport, has a crew of 184 flight attendants and 143 pilots based in Boston. Local workers may be reassigned to other cities, and it is unclear how many of them, if any, will lose their jobs, the airline said.

“We’re not sure if there’s going to be any net loss of jobs out of Boston,’’ airline spokesman Morgan Durrant said.

The airline will also be reducing its number of nonstop daily flights from Boston to the Caribbean, which is now five.

US Airways lost $800 million in 2008, and it is expecting another large loss in 2009, according to a letter chief executive Doug Parker wrote to employees. To reduce costs, the airline is also: closing down its crews at LaGuardia Airport in New York and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas; ending flights out of Colorado Springs and Wichita, Kan.; cutting Las Vegas service almost in half; and suspending several European destinations out of Philadelphia.

The cuts are part of US Airways’ plan to concentrate resources on hubs in Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; Phoenix, and its focus city, Washington, D.C. (at Reagan National Airport), as well as on the hourly shuttles among LaGuardia, Logan, and Reagan National. The 1,000 positions to be eliminated nationwide will include about 600 airport passenger and ramp service employees, 200 pilots, and 150 flight attendants.

“By focusing on our strengths and eliminating unprofitable flying, we will increase the likelihood of returning US Airways to long-term profitability,’’ Parker wrote to employees.

Henry Harteveldt, principal airline analyst for Forrester Research Inc., said US Airways has suffered from the inefficiencies of having two distinct groups of workers, a result of its 2005 merger with America West Airlines.

“This is reactive; it’s not proactive,’’ Harteveldt said. “This is the effect of running a bad airline in a bad way.’’

Also yesterday, American Airlines said that it will cut 700 jobs when it closes its maintenance base in Kansas City, Mo., next fall. Maintenance operations will also be discontinued or downsized in San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and St. Louis. The airline’s fleet has shrunk from a high of 900 airplanes to about 600.

Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at johnstonchase@globe.com

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