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Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Trying to put airlines back in business

The days when pilots were paid the same salaries aas CEOs are long gone, and employees in the world's airlines indutries may be forced to do more for less

By Micheline Maynard  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

This erosion of power is particularly frustrating for labor leaders like Friend, whose union has spent the last 40 years transforming the work of flight attendants from essentially a way station for young women before marriage into a full-time career for employees of both sexes. Especially difficult, she said, is knowing that a deal cut at one company may not hold up if a competitor can get better terms.

Especially worrisome for both labor and management is the suspicion that no airline is too big to fail, not as long as aggressive and financially healthy rivals are around. Alain Kornhauser, professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton, said that "if US Airways were to disappear," other airlines would quickly replace its flights, hire its crews and lease some of its planes.

Thomas Chochan, professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: "It's a terrible situation for the employees, for the customers, for the shareholders, for everyone at the moment. But unfortunately that's the world they're in."

As Dylan put it, "he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled."

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