US Airways, which is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy, was granted approval Friday to cut the pay of its unionized employees 21 percent through February by a federal judge in Alexandria, Va. The airline had sought a 23 percent reduction. The ruling means the company's average salary will drop from $59,509 to $47,012, putting it below five traditional rivals and Southwest Airlines, but higher than JetBlue and America West, carriers it seeks to emulate. In other airline news:
• Delta again warned of a strong likelihood that it may be forced to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks.
• United told a bankruptcy court judge that it intends to open talks with unions early next month on a new round of unspecified givebacks.
• A union that represents almost 1,900 flight attendants for ATA voted to accept a 10 percent pay cut to help keep the carrier in business. ATA, the nation's 10th largest airline, is based in Indianapolis.
In a trailblazing agreement, the city of Chicago will hire Cintra-Macquarie, a private Spanish-Australian consortium, to operate its Skyway toll road for the next 99 years. The $1.8 billion deal, announced Friday, marks the first time a US toll road has been privatized, according to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank that advised the city. The arrangement is expected to save money in maintenance and allow the city to pay off millions in debt. The lesees will be allowed to double the toll from $2 to $4 during the first decade of operation of the almost eight miles of elevated roadway that links the Indiana Toll road with an expressway into Chicago's Loop business district.
Sprint Corp., the telecommunications giant, will cut 700 jobs in its business solutions division as it evolves primarily from a local and long-distance business to a company that earns more than half of its revenue from wireless products. The layoffs, announced late last week, will occur by the end of the year at undetermined locations. Sprint has shrunk its workforce by 22,000 jobs over the past two years.
Seven hundred job cuts also were announced by J Sainsbury, Britain's third-largest supermarket chain. The company said the layoffs, all in administrative positions, had been decided upon to free money for additional staff in its stores.