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Airlines Cut Flights and Jobs To Preserve Cash


Airlines Monday cut flights and thousands more jobs to preserve their rapidly depleting cash, but the moves did little to calm investors who massively dumped the stocks of U.S. air carriers, sending prices plunging so dramatically that President Bush promised federal support for the industry.

Airline executives said in order to survive through the first half of next year, the industry will need $24 billion in federal assistance, more than the $15 billion Congress has been considering. And some analysts warned that even that amount could be insufficent to save some of the weaker airlines, like Arlington, Va.-based US Airways.

US Airways, with major operations at Reagan National Airport which remains closed, announced it was laying off 11,000 of its 46,000 employees and cutting back on routes. Its stock, which was trading as high as $48 within the last year, closed at $5.57 cents a share, down $6.05 for the day.

The hijacking and crashes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon last Tuesday -- which grounded all airplanes for two days -- sent the airlines industry into a dizzying financial tailspin that has made it difficult for carriers to raise money.

Logan Airport Security Chief Had No Aviation Experience


Among the surprises to emerge from last week’s terrorist attack is the fact that Logan International Airport’s chief of security had no background in aviation before assuming his job.

Former state trooper Joseph Lawless, 43, was then-Gov. William F. Weld’s personal driver eight years ago when Weld tapped him for the $125,000-a-year job.

“On paper, you can laugh about (Lawless) being a driver, but he was a state police guy, and he had done investigative work. It wasn’t a ridiculous idea on the face of it,” said former Weld adviser Martin Linsky, now a lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “But it is hard to defend in retrospect.”

Massachusetts Port Authority officials would not permit Lawless to be interviewed. But with international attention focused on Boston’s busy airport, Lawless suddenly became a media presence.

Hours afer two planes that left Logan Airport crashed into New York’s World Trade Center last Tuesday, a stone-faced Lawless told Massachusetts residents about increased subway service to help remove stranded passengers at Logan. Lawless assured the commonwealth that airport administrators were working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and state police. He announced a “dramatic” increase in police presence at Logan.