MINNEAPOLIS -- Sun Country Airlines is canceling service to Seattle, Boston, San Diego and Chicago effective Oct. 1 and will cut staff because of the drop in travel after last week's attacks, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Spokeswoman Tammy Lee said the airline was reducing service by 26 percent.
"It is our hope that air travel will rebound and we'll be able to rebuild the schedule," she said.
At the moment, Sun Country serves Seattle, Boston and San Diego with one flight a day from its hub at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, while it has two flights a day to Chicago. The flights allowed for coast-to-coast connections. Because of the way the airline counts flight segments, Lee said, the cuts reduce Sun Country's total daily schedule from 55 flights to 39.
Lee said it was too early to tell how many jobs might be cut. "We're asking our labor groups what suggestions they have before making any staffing decisions," she said.
Management sent a letter to all employees Friday offering voluntary leaves, Lee said. She said executives were also meeting with representatives of its pilots and flight attendants unions to see what proposals they might have. They also asked department heads to look at their staffing and spending levels and propose cost reductions.
"The airline is making every effort in the short term to get to long-term viability and profitability," Lee said.
Lee said Sun Country hasn't fully calculated the financial impact of last week's shutdown of the country's airways and the drop-off in demand after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Sun Country's fixed costs alone on the days it didn't fly were close to $500,000, not counting lost revenues, and the airline now faces doubled insurance premiums and higher security costs, Lee said.
"It's a big number," Lee said. "It's tough to wrap our arms around it."
The approximately $20 million in aid expected from Congress "is not going to be enough to make Sun Country whole," Lee said.
On the positive side, Lee said, Sun Country has taken delivery of five of the eight 737-800s it recently ordered from Boeing and will take delivery on the final three planes as well.
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