Business & Finance

United Airlines' parent, UAL Corp., revealed a net loss of $2.1 billion in 2001, a record for an industry hit hard by a drop in travel since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The loss revived speculation that the struggling 75-year-old carrier, the nation's second-largest, may go bankrupt. UAL's chief financial officer said the company is focused on a recovery plan that will include cutting back labor costs, which are among the highest in the industry. UAL already has laid off about one-fifth of its workers since September and trimmed flight schedules by 23 percent.

Flight attendants at Delta Air Lines rejected a plan to unionize. Only 5,520 of 19,033 voted in favor of joining the Association of Flight Attendants. An unspecified number of ballots were not returned and were counted as "no" votes. But organizers demanded a revote, complaining of interference by the Atlanta-based company, the US's third-largest carrier. The National Mediation board agreed to investigate the allegations.

Struggling British Airways was declining to comment on published reports that it will announce a restructuring plan as soon as today that includes a heavy new round of job cuts and a price war with budget carriers. The Sunday Times (London) said BA would increase the number of layoffs announced late last year - 7,200 - to 16,000 by 2007. The Sunday Telegraph said it had learned that the carrier would reveal new no-frills, short-haul routes from London's Gatwick Airport. Only eight months ago, BA sold the low-price subsidiary it had operated since 1997. BA was denied a hoped-for transatlantic alliance with American Airlines late last month by US regulators.

McDonald's has been overtaken as the No. 1 US fast-food chain in terms of the number of outlets, newly released statistics show. With 904 openings last year, Subway Restaurants of Milford, Conn., pulled ahead of McDonalds: 13,247 to 13,099. McDonald's, however, held the edge systemwide in gross sales - $40.63 billion to $40.18 billion - and still has more overseas outlets than Subway.

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