Delta Cuts 157 Flights at Kentucky Airport

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will lose 157 of its 638 daily flights beginning Dec. 1, and as many as 1,000 airline workers could lose their jobs because of changes announced yesterday by debt-plagued Delta Air Lines Inc.

However, the effect of the Delta cuts on other Kentucky airports, including Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, apparently will be minimal.

Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, said it was reducing capacity at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, its second-largest hub, by 26 percent. Delta, which has been trying to avoid bankruptcy, also announced the sale of 11 planes to an air freight company.

"At this time, the actual number of involuntary job losses is not known, because we are working to minimize that number by offering relocation and other opportunities to affected Delta people," Jim Whitehurst, Delta's chief operating officer, said in a memo to employees.

For the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport in Hebron, the decrease in flights will mean a decrease in landing fees and concession sales. It also means the airport will be looking to take belt-tightening measures, airport officials said yesterday.

But for many passengers, the cuts should mean better flight times and shorter layovers, because flights will be more strategically placed, they said. Flights to be cut include early-morning and late-night flights, they said.

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport will lose nine destinations served by Delta Connection carriers: Moline, Ill.; Mobile, Ala.; Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Islip, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Daytona Beach, Fla.

Airport spokesman Ted Bushelman said he had not received complete details on other Delta flight cuts.

Delta's hub operations accounted for about 92 percent of the nearly 22 million passengers who went through airport last year, he said.

Of the 638 daily flights out of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, 599 are Delta and Delta connection departures. Delta will reduce its 128 flights to 94, and Delta Connection flights will be cut from 471 to 348, Bushelman said.

"From our contact with Delta officials, we've been told at this time that the most we would stand to lose would be one flight," said Amy Caudill, a spokeswoman for Lexington's Blue Grass Airport. "Considering the scope of the changes they're making at Cincinnati, we feel fortunate ... we haven't been affected further."

Louisville International Airport spokesman Tom Tyra said that airport probably will lose two Cincinnati flights, both of which are not at busy times.

"Delta is retiming the other (seven) flights and increasing the size of some of the other aircraft, so it won't really be a big inconvenience for our customers," he said, adding that the total number of seats should remain about the same.

ABX Air Inc. of Wilmington, Ohio, said it will spend $190 million to buy 11 wide-body Boeing 767-200 jets from Delta and convert them into freighter planes.

While cutting flights at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky hub, Delta said it will be expanding service to regional business destinations from its Atlanta and Salt Lake City hubs with new non-stop flights to 20 destinations. Delta also said it will add more flights to Hawaii and new or expanded service to 41 international destinations.

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