ATLANTA - In a race to avoid having to file for bankruptcy,Delta Air Lines announced on Sept. 8 that it will cut up to 7,000jobs over the next 18 months. A Delta Employees Credit Union (DECU)spokesperson offered no comment on the airline's financialtroubles. A "safety and soundness" section on the credit union'sWeb site reassures members that it "has no plans" to change itsrelationship with Delta should the carrier file for bankruptcy.DECU also said "based on what has occurred in other bankruptcycases, Delta's policy of sending direct payroll deposits to DECUshould be unaffected by a Chapter 11 filing," members will stillhave access to their accounts and funds and consumer loan paymentswill still be due. The credit union serves nearly 179,000 membersand has $2.5 billion in assets. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines CEOGerald Grinstein said the 7,000 job cuts account for 10% of thecompany's employee base. The carrier also plans to reduce itsadministrative overhead costs by 15% including management cuts;announce a reduction in wages by the end of the month and expectemployees to pay more for their health insurance. Grinstein saidthe airline will no longer use the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport as oneof its four hubs but will expand its hubs in Cincinnati and SaltLake City with redeployed aircraft from Dallas-Fort Worth. "We'reworking hard and fast to avoid (bankruptcy),"Grinstein told theAssociated Press. "But if the pilot early retirement issue is notresolved before the end of the month or if all of the pieces don'tcome together in the near term, we will have to restructure throughthe courts." Grinstein said the airline is looking for more than $5billion in annual cash savings by 2006. The planned reductions forthe nation's third-largest carrier would come on top of 16,000 jobcuts seen in the last three years.

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