NWA Cuts Jobs in Fargo, N.D.

Northwest Airlines is cutting 32 employees at the airport here.

Northwest is transferring its baggage handling, ticket agent and gate agent jobs at Hector to Irving, Texas-based Worldwide Flight Services on Nov. 14.

The Northwest employees can apply for jobs with the new company, take early retirement or transfer to a Northwest location at a bigger airport, said Roman Blahoski, Northwest spokesman in St. Paul.

The company is also offering a severance package of up to 20 weeks' pay, medical coverage and travel benefits.

Worldwide Flight Services spokeswoman Jo Garvey did not know how many people the company will employ in Fargo, or whether any of the Northwest employees will be hired.

Worldwide Flight Services operates in more than 115 airports worldwide, according to the company's Web site.

Customers won't see any difference with the new ground operations in place, Blahoski said.

Fargo airport director Shawn Dobberstein said he's hopeful the quality of customer service will remain the same.

Northwest and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers earlier this year reached an agreement allowing the bankrupt company to hire outside companies to do work at 69 airports, where Northwest operated fewer than 50 flights weekly in 2005.

Northwest and its affiliates currently operate eight flights daily to and from Fargo and Minneapolis.

The transition to Worldwide Flight Services is part of Northwest's attempt to cut $2.5 billion. The across-the-board cuts include $1.4 billion in annual labor savings, with $190 million coming from members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The cuts were painful, especially when they involve veteran workers, said Frank Larkin, a union spokesman.

But given Northwest's dire financial situation, the union felt it had little choice but to agree to the cuts, he said.

"I hope you understand, this isn't normally how we negotiate," he said.

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