United cuts 1,700 jobs, closes ticket offices



United cuts 1,700 jobs,closes ticket offices
CHICAGO -- Bankrupt United Airlines said Friday it will lay off nearly 1,700 more employees, or about 2 percent of its work force, and shut down all of its U.S. ticket offices to slash costs.
The world's No. 2 carrier has until Feb. 15 to cut costs significantly or it could lose the remainder of $1.5 billion in interim financing.
The bulk of the layoffs involve nearly 1,500 management and salaried employees whose nonunion jobs will be cut by Jan. 19.
"These changes are part of the process of creating a new business that is competitive, customer-focused and sustainable," said Sara Fields, senior vice president.
United said it decided to close the 32 ticket offices -- all of them outside airports -- based on customers' increasing shift to buy tickets online or by telephone.
The ticket office closings, effective Jan. 28, will result in the loss of an additional 188 jobs. Those employees are represented by the Machinists' union.
United spokesman Jeff Green put the total number of jobs being cut at about 1,700. The airline, which employed about 100,000 people before the 2001 terrorist attacks, now has about 83,000.
Storm brings threat ofdeep snow to Northeast
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A powerful storm moving up the East Coast dumped a dangerous mix of freezing rain and snow across much of the Northeast on Friday, snarling traffic and giving thousands of schoolchildren an early start on the weekend.
The nor'easter -- characterized by northeast winds of 15 mph to 20 mph -- was expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow to New York's Catskills mountains and the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, the National Weather Service said. Heavy snowfall was also forecast for parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
Many areas were still digging out from a Christmas storm that knocked out power to thousands of people.
"I've had my white Christmas, and that's enough," said Tom Guilianelli, 33, filling up his delivery truck at a gas station in suburban Albany.
At least three deaths were attributed to the latest storm. Two people died in separate traffic accidents in Connecticut, and the New Jersey State Police said a man was killed jumping off an elevated highway to avoid an out-of-control truck.
80 injured as troopsbreak up protests
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas Friday to keep opponents and rock-throwing supporters of President Hugo Chavez from clashing outside the Venezuelan capital's military headquarters. Eighty people were hurt, including three who suffered gunshot wounds.
The violence erupted when several hundred supporters of the president threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at thousands of opposition marchers and police in Los Proceres park, outside Caracas' Fort Tiuna.
The anti-Chavez marchers were demanding the release of a dissident national guard general and urging the military to support a 5-week-old strike aimed at forcing Chavez to hold a nonbinding vote on his leadership.
Stinging white clouds of tear gas drifted through the district's tree-lined avenues as guardsmen fired tear gas and buckshot near the base, the armed forces' main headquarters.
Caracas Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno said three people were injured by gunshots and 77 people were hurt by rocks or suffered asphyxiation from the tear gas. It was unclear who had fired the gunshots.
Lucky Christmas goat
GAEVLE, Sweden -- Its predecessors have been burned with cigarette lighters, leveled by a car and rocketed by fireworks. But this holiday season, the giant straw Christmas goat built in this Swedish city escaped destruction for the first time since 1997.
The merchants of Gaevle dismantled the huge straw display Thursday, a few days ahead of schedule, because of the cost of hiring security guards to keep watch over it through the night.
"It's an issue of cost, the surveillance is expensive," Christmas goat committee chairman Goeran Carlsson told the Gefle Dagblad newspaper.
The Christmas goat tradition was started in 1966 by merchants in Gaevle, 90 miles north of Stockholm. Since then, only 10 goats have made it through Christmas and New Year's Day.
Most were burned -- some just hours after being erected in the first week of December.
During Christmas 2001, the goat was torched Dec. 23 by a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland. Lawrence Jones was convicted of inflicting gross damage and spent 18 days in jail.
Associated Press

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