Delta Air Lines to cut 2009 capacity 6-8 percent


CHICAGO – Delta Air Lines will cut its systemwide capacity by 6 percent to 8 percent in 2009 because of weaker travel demand, the world’s largest carrier said on Tuesday.

The company, which this year merged with Northwest Airlines, said its domestic capacity would be down 8 percent to 10 percent next year, and international capacity would fall 3 percent to 5 percent.

The carrier, which in June announced plans to reduce its capacity by 13 percent in the second half of 2008, said the new target included previously announced cuts.

Delta said it was analyzing how the capacity reductions would affect staffing. In March, the company unveiled plans to cut 2,000 jobs and said it would offer optional severance packages.

The airline industry has slashed fourth-quarter capacity after being battered in the first half of 2008 by soaring fuel costs.

Oil prices, which influence fuel costs, have fallen about $100 a barrel since the July, giving carriers much-needed relief. But the industry now grapples with a U.S. economic recession that has eroded travel demand.

Earlier on Tuesday, at an airline conference hosted by Credit Suisse, UAL Corp Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said the parent of United Airlines was satisfied with its own capacity cuts.

“At this point, we continue to be very comfortable that they are the right actions for this environment,” Mikells said.

United said earlier this year that it would cut fourth-quarter mainline capacity by up to 16.5 percent.