NEW YORK — Northwest Airlines said Monday that it will cut 646 employees from its work force, about 1.9% of the total, and cancel the planned hiring of an additional 1,000--actions that an airline spokesman said will save as much as $45 million a year.
The airline, which completed its merger with Republic Airlines on Oct. 1, has been troubled with various operational problems since. Many of them, Northwest said Monday, have been solved.
Northwest, based in St. Paul, Minn., said that even after the reduction, it will still have 33,781 employees worldwide, 1,178 more than the combined work force of the two carriers before the merger.
The airline said about 10% of the 646 job cuts will come through attrition and the rest will be carried out by layoffs. All categories of employees except pilots and flight attendants will be affected.
Flight Reduction Planned
"It is our sincere hope that many of those released this week may be able to rejoin us at a later date," said a letter signed by Chairman Steven G. Rothmeier and other executives. The airline said the adjustments "are designed to help control costs as Northwest competes against the pricing regime created by low-cost, non-union airlines."
Northwest said that when troubles occurred last fall with lost baggage, delayed and canceled flights and computer foul-ups, it had to quickly hire additional workers to deal with the problems. Now, besides having solved the problems, Northwest said, it needs fewer workers because it is also cutting its flight schedule.
The airline will reduce its daily flights by about 50, to 1,533, on June 1, eliminating the need for baggage handlers and clerical workers, among others.
Anthony Hatch, airline analyst with Argus Research Corp., a New York-based research firm, said Northwest's move came as no surprise. "When you merge," he said, "you don't need two sets of everybody."