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News Briefs

WorldCom to Lay Off 5,000 More Employees, Cut Spending


WorldCom Inc. announced Monday that it will lay off 5,000 employees and reduce operating costs in an effort to cut spending by $2.5 billion a year.

The nation’s second-largest long-distance company is cutting costs as it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy later this year. Most of the layoffs will be in the corporate and administrative staff, the company said in a statement.

WorldCom spokesman Brad Burns said details of the workforce reduction are still being worked out and it is not yet clear how many of the company’s 6,000 Washington area employees will be included in the latest wave of layoffs. But he said the company expects to continue to have a “major presence” in Ashburn, Va. Last year WorldCom laid off 17,000 employees, reducing its workforce to 60,000.

In addition to cutting 8 percent of its workforce by the end of this month, the company plans to trim $1.5 billion in costs by shutting down parts of its vast fiber-optics networks and rerouting data and voice traffic through underused facilities. WorldCom said customers will not be affected by changes in its network.

U.S. Airways Posts $794 Million Loss


U.S. Airways, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since August, said Monday that it lost $794 million in the fourth quarter, its 10th consecutive quarterly loss.

The Arlington, Va.-based airline’s loss narrowed to $11.67 per share from a record-breaking loss of $1.15 billion, or $17.07 per share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenue for the period increased slightly, to $1.61 billion, compared with $1.57 billion a year earlier.

U.S. Airways also trimmed its annual loss, to $1.65 billion, or $24.20 per share, from $2.12 billion, or $31.48 per share, in 2001. But the airline’s revenue slid nearly 16 percent, to $6.98 billion, during the year, from $8.29 billion in 2001.

U.S. Airways, the nation’s seventh-largest carrier, said it expects revenue to continue to decline, by nearly $10 million a month, because of the drastic fare cuts it has implemented along with several other major airlines.

Russia Puts Space Tourism Program on Hold


Russian officials said Monday they have put the country’s space tourism program on hold because of the space shuttle catastrophe, but vowed to continue flying tourists to the International Space Station for cash once questions over the shuttle’s future are resolved.

“This is good money for Russia, and we do not plan to end tourist flights under any conditions. Naturally, at present, all commercial launches have been delayed for an indefinite time,” Russian Space Agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov told the Interfax news agency.

Russia’s space agency reaps a reported $20 million per tourist flight.

Flights of the U.S. space shuttle are suspended pending the results of the investigation of the Columbia disaster, and Gorbunov predicted the shuttles could be grounded for two years, meaning tourist flights would also be on hold for that long.

“The Americans must decide what they really want to do. They have not made any official addresses to Russia. Negotiations are underway only on the level of technical specialists of the two countries,” Gorbunov said.