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American Airlines to cut at least 20,000 jobs

DALLAS (CNN) -- Citing reaction to last week's terrorist attacks, American Airlines announced Wednesday that it would lay off 20,000 or more employees.

The company said the move was necessary because of a 20 percent schedule reduction and the cost and complexity of new security procedures, according to a statement posted on the airline's Web site.

"This is, without a doubt, the most difficult thing I have had to do in my two decades at American," said American Chairman and CEO Don Carty in a letter to employees.

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"I have declared a state of emergency at American Airlines. This declaration is an official recognition that, hard as it may be to accept, our company's very survival depends on dramatic change to our operations, our schedule and worst of all our staffing levels."

The cuts, American said, would include both management and support staff. They will impact American, American Eagle and Trans World Airlines.

Some employees will be notified immediately, others won't be notified until the end of next week, according to spokesman John Hotard.

Staff cuts for pilots, flight attendants and other union workers will be based on seniority, Hotard said, in a deal worked out at a meeting between Carty and union leaders.

Employees who lost their job will not receive any sort of severance package, according to the American statement. AMR Corp., which owns American Airlines and TWA, is the world's largest airline company. The company's latest quarterly report said the different units of AMR had at total of 128,300 employees, meaning the cut represents a 16 percent reduction in staff.

AMR is the latest in a string of airline layoff announcements, pushing the total of announced cuts in the last five days to 70,000.

The number is likely to cross the 100,000 threshold in the coming days, airline executives told Congress in testimony on the crisis Wednesday.

Congress and President Bush are considering spending billions on emergency aid to the industry.

Boeing announced Tuesday it will reduce its workforce by 20,000 to 30,000 workers nationwide by end of 2002 at its commercial aircraft division and shared services division.

United Airlines plans to cut at least 20,000 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, according to sources close to company.

In addition, Continental Airlines has said it is cutting 12,000 jobs. U.S. Airways said it expects to lay off 11,000 employees and sources with Northwest Airlines have said it plans to announce layoffs in the coming week.

Eight days ago, two American Airline jets were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Terrorists also took control of two United flights, one of which crashed in the World Trade Center and the other in rural Pennsylvania.

The attack resulted in a shutdown of the total U.S. air transportation system for two days and a sharp drop in new ticket purchases by the public.