Airline industry announces more layoffs

By Greg Gelpi

Two airline industry companies announced layoffs of more than 400 employees in Clayton County in the past two days.

DAL Global Services, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc., and Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation, which has an office in Forest Park, will lay off 436 employees collectively in the next two months, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

"This is the second announcement of major layoffs in the airline industry in Atlanta in as many days," State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. "Obviously, these layoffs send a disturbing signal from the airline industry, which is critically important to the Atlanta and state economies."

Air Wisconsin intends to lay off 131 employees at its Forest Park location Aug. 1, and DAL Global plans to lay off 305 employees by July 28.

DAL Global will cut workers from its Airport Passenger Assistant operation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to the Department of Labor. Managers, supervisors and agents will be among those let go.

Delta spokesperson John Kennedy said there will be no disruption in services.

"The company said it will work with its employees to try to place them in other cities, if openings exist," the Department of Labor stated.

The impact of layoffs on the economy as a whole is always an unknown, Matt Carlson, the president of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, said.

"Any time you lose jobs or have a downturn it makes you say ?Oh my gosh,' but sometimes you have to take a step back and see what opportunities it provides," Carlson said.

Although he said he is no expert in the airline industry, he said that Clayton County is primed to do well with regards to the airline industry.

The construction of a $5 billion international terminal and a fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson puts Clayton County in a "very enviable position," Carlson said, calling Atlanta, the "gateway to the world."

The Department of Labor will work to place those impacted by the layoffs in new employment in a similar position or retrain them to find employment in new positions.

"I want to assure those affected that they are not alone in dealing with the problem," Thurmond said. "We will help the employees file claims for unemployment insurance and give them access to services designed to get them back to work as quickly as possible. We will also assist workers who need additional skills to find appropriate training."

Air Wisconsin works with AirTran Airways and United Airlines, according to its Web site. The company has 450 departures daily in 56 cities, 25 states and two Canadian providences.

"The layoff at Air Wisconsin will create a difficult situation for the workers and their families and for the Forest Park and Clayton County communities," Thurmond said. "I want them to know that they are not alone in dealing with the problem. We are prepared to assist them."

Several telephone calls to Air Wisconsin were not returned Thursday.