- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

Major airlines are reducing the number of their flights for Sept. 11 as memories of last year's hijackings are giving passengers the jitters.

"We're going to be reducing our schedule slightly for that day because of anticipated slower traffic, but only on September 11," said Chris Brathwaite, United Airlines spokesman.

Weak bookings also prompted American Airlines, the world's largest air carrier, and Delta Air Lines to announce unspecified small flight cutbacks. Atlanta-based Delta is reducing flights for the longest period, for the workweek of Sept. 9 through Sept. 13.

"I think people would probably be a little superstitious and not want to travel that day," said travel agent Pam Seitz, manager of Waters Travel Service in Northwest.

Contributing factors to the weak bookings are the traditional post-Labor Day drop in passengers and slow midweek traffic. Sept. 11 falls on a Wednesday this year.

"They're back from the holiday, the kids are back in school, things like that," Miss Seitz said.

Continental Airlines also plans to adjust its schedule but says it is too early to say how. US Airways, Southwest Airlines, America West Airlines and Alaska Airlines plan no schedule changes for the days. Northwest Airlines is considering changing its schedule.

United, which saw one of its airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and another into the Pennsylvania countryside, will "try to make it as much of a business-as-usual day as possible," Mr. Brathwaite said. "I think you'll find most of our employees will not spend a lot of time dwelling on September 11 because it reminds customers of what happened."

Nevertheless, the airline canceled the two flights for the upcoming Sept. 11 that terrorists hijacked one year ago. On other days, the flights fly under new numbers.

American Airlines has retired the two flights that were hijacked last year. For Sept. 11, the airline is making "adjustments" to its schedule, said Todd Burke, American Airlines spokesman.

"As expected, American Airlines is seeing a decline in reservations for travel on and around September 11, 2002," he said.

Nearly a year after the attack, passenger traffic was down 10.4 percent in June from a year earlier, according to the Air Transport Association.

A search of Internet travel sites yesterday found slightly fewer flights being offered on Sept. 11 than a week before, Sept. 4, or week after, Sept. 18.

Airlines and airports plan to participate in memorial services scheduled for the day.

"We are at this point tentatively scheduled to take part in the official services in Pennsylvania and New York City," Mr. Brathwaite said.

They are likely to be joined by President Bush, but his plans still are being worked out.

"We'll have more details to give you at some point," said Claire Buchan, White House spokeswoman.

Services that airport officials describe as "fairly small" are being developed for airports in the Washington area.

"There are a couple of things being kicked around," said Tom Sullivan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports. "Everyone has it on their minds that maybe something should be done."

The hijacked American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon took off from Dulles.

Marguerite Higgins contributed to this report.

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