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America's New War: Reagan National Remains Closed; Delta Lays Off 13,000

Aired September 26, 2001 - 14:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We've been reporting about the airline industry and the economic hard times it has been facing since September 11. Today another airline announcing major cutbacks and layoffs. CNN's Kathleen Koch is at Reagan National Airport an airport that is still closed, with the latest on all that -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, Delta, one of 23 airlines that used to fly out of Reagan National Airport here, the announcement this afternoon that Delta Airlines is laying off some 13,000 employees by the end of the year.

The airline is also cutting its entire schedule 15 percent. Delta CEO said this afternoon that much has changed for the airline since September 11. Its flights now going out only about one-third full. The airline estimated to have lost over the last two weeks $1 billion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEO MULLIN, CEO, DELTA AIRLINES: Before September 11, the tragic events that so affected us all, calling into question our company's capacity for financial survival would have been unthinkable. But on that date, terrorists declared war on our nation using aviation as the instrument of destruction.

As a result the operational and financial outlook for airlines has changed dramatically and today drastic measures are required if we are to avoid being among the first economic casualties of the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: CEO Leo Mullen announced that to help his struggling airline he would give up his salary for the remainder of the year. Delta, to lure back passengers, is also cutting fares across the board. And it is also offering some deeply discounted tickets, some 10,000 of them to New York City to boost tourism there.

Here in the nation's capital meanwhile, Congress and the president are considering new security -- new aviation security measures, such as stronger cockpit doors, and greater oversight of the carry-on baggage screeners, all, Judy, to persuade a very tentative and very concerned American public that it is indeed safe now to fly again. WOODRUFF: Kathleen, we know now that something like 100,000 people have been laid off by the airlines. What are the airlines doing in general, if you know what is Delta doing to help these people as they walk out the door?

KOCH: Judy, I understand that Delta is offering some packages to its employees, offering to continue health insurance for an extended period of time, doing all they can to help their employees. Also here at National Airport where, again, there were some 23 airlines operating, and there were lots of people, some 4,000 airport employees out of jobs. They have opened up an unemployment office at the airport where people are coming to sign up for benefits.

Obviously still holding out that hope that some day this airport right next to the nation's capital on the banks of the Potomac will reopen.

WOODRUFF: Kathleen Koch, and it is still very hard for those of us who live in Washington to imagine that airport completely shut down. It has always been a bustle of activity, the airport closest to the nation's capital.

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