American Airlines to Lay Off Five Baggage Handlers at RDU

DURHAM -- American Airlines will lay off five baggage handlers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport by July 18, according to a local union official.

Glenn Jeanes, president of Transport Workers Union -- Local 569, the local union branch for American Airlines workers, said Monday that this will be the first round of layoffs for the airline's baggage handlers at RDU this year.

The cut of five workers will bring the total number of baggage handlers down to 34 for the airline. That's 15 to 20 fewer than what they had at RDU last August, Jeanes said.

"They really don't have enough manpower to handle it," he said. "The planes are going out late as it is because of manpower and people are waiting for baggage."

The airline went down from 17 flights a day to 13 flights a day last year at RDU, he said. Among the cuts last year were five maintenance workers who were laid off when the airline moved into the new Terminal 2. RDU now has its own maintenance crew there, Jeanes said.

American saw declines of about 28 percent in passengers at RDU for the first five months of the year.

From January to May this year, the airline enplaned and deplaned 400,636 passengers at RDU. For the same period last year, 555,521 passengers passed through American, according to RDU data.

Businesses have cut down on travel during this recession, and many consumers have also curtailed longer trips, opting to drive to nearby destinations.

American announced plans to cut about 1,600 jobs earlier this month to respond to declines in bookings this summer. According to The Associated Press, a memo to employees stated that flight attendants would receive the brunt of the cuts, up to three-fourths of the total.

American Airlines and RDU spokespersons were not available for comments.