- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Jan. 22 (UPI) — The head of struggling Northwest Airlines warned "everything is on the table," including more layoffs after the fourth-largest airline reported a $488 million fourth-quarter loss.

Northwest lost $798 million last year and has posted more than $1.2 billion in red ink since 2000.

"It is likely we will have some layoffs," Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told industry analysts in a teleconference after the Eagan, Minn.-based carrier Tuesday reported a net loss of $488 million, or $5.68 per share, in the last three months of 2002.

"Everything is on the table, and it could include more job eliminations," he said.

Anderson said the number of furloughs could be "very significant if the United States goes to war in Iraq." Northwest laid off 12,000 employees in five rounds of cuts between 2001 and 2002 and had 44,323 employees at the end of December.

"Although Northwest Airlines outperformed most of its network carrier competitors in 2002 across relevant financial measures, our absolute performance was disappointing," Anderson said. "While Northwest has been aggressively managing its costs since early 2001, we must work even harder with our employees, suppliers, and other partners to bring our costs in line with expected revenues."

Northwest has higher labor costs than low-fare competitors like Southwest Airlines and announced it would delay delivery of nine Airbus A319 and A320 jetliners by two years. Delivery of four long-range A330 planes will be pushed back a year until 2008.

Northwest plans to operate older DC-9s in its 444 aircraft fleet on some routes in the short term, Anderson said.

Northwest is the world's fourth-largest airline with hubs in Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Memphis, Tokyo and Amsterdam with more than 1,500 daily departures.

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