United, Frontier announce more job cuts for Colorado | AspenTimes.com

United, Frontier announce more job cuts for Colorado

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The top two airlines at Denver International Airport have announced 130 more job cuts in Colorado, with one announcing more flight reductions.

United Airlines plans to lay off 17 pilots in September, and Frontier Airlines plans to lay off 113 nonunion employees Sept. 9, according to letters both airlines sent to state labor officials earlier this month.

United’s layoffs could still rise. On Tuesday, United said it planned to cut a total of 7,000 jobs throughout the company, up from the 3,800 it previously announced. The news came as United parent UAL Corp. reported a $2.73 billion second-quarter loss.

Since June, Frontier has announced a total of 569 layoffs and United has announced cuts of 167 people in Denver.

Frontier also is reducing jobs in other cities, including 37 in Las Cruces, N.M., company spokesman Steve Snyder said. Frontier blamed rising fuel prices for the cuts.

Frontier filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April. It previously said it would reduce its mainline capacity by 17 percent and cut seven planes from its fleet, leading to a proportional cut in jobs.

The 569 layoffs announced so far represent about 12 percent of Frontier’s work force. Snyder said he did not know whether more layoffs were coming.

United also is cutting flights. In a message to employees, it said that beginning in November, it is reducing the number of daily flights between Denver and 14 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and smaller towns such as Vail, Montrose and Fargo, N.D.

It also plans to end its one daily departure from Denver to Charlotte, N.C.

United said it will have 370 daily departures at DIA in November, down 11 percent from November 2007. United has said it plans to trim about 14 percent of its capacity by the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday Glenn Tilton, head of UAL Corp., said United is ending Denver-London flights, which it began offering March 30.

British Airways also offers flights to London from DIA.

Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., said the loss of United’s Denver-London flight would reduce competition on the route, but direct service to London will still be available.

He said roughly 130,000 passengers fly the route going both ways annually.

“When you get into such convulsive economic times like the airlines are in right now, when it comes time to do cost cutting, you don’t do it with a scalpel but with a sledgehammer,” Clark said. “The route was new, developing, we don’t know if it was profitable, so you would expect something like that to happen.”

Clark said Denver spent less than a year working on adding another flight to London, compared with 16 years to land a direct flight to Munich.

Nevertheless, the loss of United’s flight will affect accessibility to western Europe, where six of the top eight foreign investors in Colorado are based, said Andre Pettigrew, director of Denver Office of Economic Development. The United Kingdom is tops, representing 20 percent of foreign investment in Colorado, he said Tuesday.

“Though much attention is paid to China and India, London, the UK and western Europe are still some of our strongest partners. We want to be sure that they know we have a commitment to maintain and establish that relationship,” Pettigrew said.

He was hopeful that service might one day be restored, once United is better able to handle skyrocketing fuel costs.

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