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Airlines reeling, laying off thousands

By Anna Hovind

(CNN) -- Even as Americans continue to deal with the emotional fallout from last week's terrorist attacks, tens of thousands of airline industry employees are now feeling the financial sting as well.

Carriers have announced massive layoffs, and in some cases, closed operations altogether as travelers canceled trips en masse.

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The number of job cuts by airlines and aircraft maker Boeing has topped 100,000 and may not be over, as carriers continue to assess the long-term economic impact of canceled travel plans.

American and United Airlines, whose jets were used in the deadly attacks on September 11, suffered the most. On Wednesday, United and AMR Corporation, parent of American Airlines, each announced 20,000 cuts. The AMR layoffs will affect employees at American, TWA and American Eagle.

That announcement came on the heels of 30,000 layoffs just the day before at aircraft maker Boeing, which expects deliveries to fall seven percent this year, and more than 20 percent in 2002. "This is not a ripple effect," Rep. Jennifer Dunn, whose suburban Seattle district includes thousands of Boeing workers, told the Associated Press. "This is a tsunami."

The job cuts that affected major U.S. carriers even reached overseas, with British Airways announcing 7,000 layoffs on Thursday.

Northwest Airlines announced Friday it would cut 10,000 jobs, nearly a fifth of its work force. It plans to make the cuts through a combination of layoffs, attrition, voluntary leaves and leaving job openings unfilled.

Another major cutback hit U.S. Airways in Arlington, Virginia, where 11,000 workers were given pink slips, while in Houston, Continental Airlines announced 12,000 layoffs. Among the major carriers, only Delta Air Lines has not yet handed out pink slips, although it is expected to announce layoffs in the coming week.

Smaller air carriers also are feeling the economic backlash. North Carolina-based Midway has shut down operations entirely, affecting 1,700 employees. America West eliminated 2,000 jobs, while American Trans Air is cutting 1,500 employees. Other airlines announcing cuts included Frontier with 440, National with 300 and Midwest Express with at least 450.

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