Northwest Airlines announced plans to cut 4,900 jobs, idle 20 planes, and reduce its flight schedule by 12 percent. The cuts were the industry's deepest to date as major carriers already struggling with low bookings respond to a further drop because of the war in Iraq.
In other airline industry news:
• United unveiled a temporary 8 percent cutback to its schedule, affecting 104 domestic and 20 international flights, starting in April. The bankrupt carrier also said it would furlough an undetermined number of workers. Unions put the figure in the thousands.
• Air Canada cut 3,600 more jobs, the Financial Times reported, while KLM, the Dutch national carrier, trimmed capacity by 7 percent from last year. Singapore Airlines has suspended 65 weekly flights, including all service to Chicago, Las Vegas, Brussels, and Madrid, the newspaper said.
• Hawaiian Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The regional carrier said the move is part of an ongoing restructuring and would not disrupt flights or result in new layoffs.
Following through on its vow, the industrial giant Fiat SpA of Italy announced the sell-off of Toro, its insurance business, for $2.5 billion. The winning bidder was Finanziaria De Agostini, a financial-services and publishing company. Fiat's chief executive called the move "a big sacrifice ... but a necessary one to cut debt and sustain our development." The proceeds from the sale will be invested in Fiat's money-losing auto unit, Bloomberg.com reported.
In another move to lower its massive $69 billion debt, France Telecom sold its remaining stake in Wind Info-strada, the third-largest phone-service provider in Italy. The deal was valued at $1.4 billion and leaves Wind under the exclusive control of Enel, the Italian government-owned electricity and natural gas utility. Wind's other original partner, Deutsche Telekom, withdrew three years ago.