Business & Finance

United Airlines revealed it expects $3.2 billion in losses for 2002, The Financial Times reported. At a bankruptcy court hearing in Chicago, the carrier said losses in December alone may total $400 million. To satisfy lenders, United hopes to slash $2.4 billion in annual costs with changes to labor contracts and work rules. United is seeking to impose a temporary wage reduction on its workers, with pilots asked to take a 29 percent cut and machinists a 13 percent cut.

Elsewhere in the financially strapped industry, America West Airlines of Phoenix said it will experiment with charging passengers for food. Beginning next week, travelers on some flights longer than 2 1/2 hours will be charged $3 for a snack box and $10 for a Chicken Kiev dinner. And in attempt to spark business, American Airlines announced discount fares of up to 40 percent on more than 200 domestic and international tickets purchased by Jan. 20.

Chiquita Brands International Inc. said it cut off subsidies to money-losing unit Puerto Armuelles Fruit Co. of Panama because union leaders rejected its sale to a worker-owned cooperative. Puerto Armuelles employs 3,200 workers and accounts for one-third of Chiquita's operations in the country. Based in Cincinnati, Chiquita is the world's top banana distributor and the leading maker of canned vegetables in the US. It emerged from bankruptcy in March 2002.

Seeking to avoid bankruptcy, power company Pacific Gas & Electric National Energy Group is negotiating the sale of some 16 hydroelectric dams and five coal plants in New England. National Energy Group of Bethesda, Md., a subsidiary of struggling utility holding company PG&E Corp., bought most of the facilities for $1.6 billion in 1998, but agreed to sell them after missing a $431 million loan payment last month. The facilities are located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont.

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