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Flyi to Lay Off 600 Workers, Cut Flights

Independence Air plans to phase out West Coast service by the end of the year, resulting in layoffs for 600 of the Dulles company's 3,400 workers.
Independence Air plans to phase out West Coast service by the end of the year, resulting in layoffs for 600 of the Dulles company's 3,400 workers. (Independence Air)
By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Flyi Inc., parent of financially ailing low-cost carrier Independence Air, said yesterday it will lay off 600 of its 3,400 full-time and part-time employees by late fall as the Dulles-based company cuts flights to five airports and discontinues all service to the West Coast.

Most of the cuts will be at Dulles Airport and at the company's headquarters nearby, said Rick DeLisi, Flyi's spokesman. The carrier has about 2,900 workers in the Dulles area.

Employees were informed of the cuts Tuesday, DeLisi said.

"In our current move to reduce our fuel consumption and overall cost of operations, the schedule has been cut and therefore staffing levels will be adjusted to meet the new level of operations," he said.

Flyi told its employees last week that layoffs were on the way, DeLisi said, because the company was cutting the number of flights it operates in and out of Dulles to 230 by late fall, down from about 350 today.

Last winter, Flyi was operating about 600 flights with about 4,700 employees. Since then, the airline has struggled to stay aloft, at first because it failed to sell enough seats and, more recently, because the soaring price of jet fuel has made flights unprofitable.

Through most of its 15-month history, Flyi has been in negotiations with creditors, seeking to reduce its debt.

Some Wall Street analysts expect the airline to soon file for bankruptcy protection.

On Oct. 31, Independence Air will pull out of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Louisville and Stewart International Airport in New York's Hudson Valley. The airline plans to drop service to Los Angeles on Oct. 1, to San Diego on Nov. 1 and to Seattle and San Francisco on Dec. 1.

DeLisi said Flyi employs 11 workers in Cleveland, 12 in Louisville, 10 in Indianapolis, 10 at Stewart, and 11 at JFK. Flyi outsources most of its jobs at the West Coast airports.

Yesterday, Flyi also said it will begin its first service from Dulles to a Caribbean city -- San Juan, Puerto Rico -- on Dec. 16.


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