United Airlines reached a tentative cost-cutting deal with its flight dispatchers union, the nation's No. 2 carrier said. Terms of the agreement were not made public. United is seeking $5.8 billion in labor concessions from unions in order to win a $1.8 billion federal loan guarantee that it needs to avoid bankruptcy. The company has yet to reach a deal with its largest employee group, the machinists union, which represents 36,000 workers.
Northwest Airlines said more cost reductions are planned there as well, as the industry continues to struggle. Chief executive Richard Anderson said the carrier, which has trimmed fixed costs by $1.1 billion since 2001, will seek savings from suppliers and airport authorities at hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit, and is reevaluating plans to take delivery of 47 planes in 2004. At present, no new "significant layoffs" are expected, a company spokeswoman said.
A sale of bonds by media giant Vivendi Universal raised $888 million, the Paris-based company said Friday - enough that it can afford to ask for less in new loans from its creditor banks. Because of the success of the sale, Vivendi said it intends to scale back the requested $3 billion in credit line it has been negotiating with the banks to $1 billion. The conglomerate also has been selling off some of its assets and reducing the size of its investment in others to reduce its $19 billion debt. But some investors said they were concerned at reports that Vivendi planned to use the proceeds from the bond issue to keep from losing control of Cegetel, France's largest privately owned cellphone service provider. Vivendi has the right of first refusal on a 26 percent stake in Cegetel owned by Britain's BT Group and a 15 percent share owned by SBC Communications of the US. Both agreed last month to sell their shares to Vodafone, the world's largest telecommunications company.