Pink slips

Airlines aren't the only ones cutting staff.

Northeast Florida's Jacksonville Aviation Authority has laid off workers because of declining air traffic and is planning for additional cuts across Jacksonville International Airport and general aviation facilities Craig Airport, Herlong Airport and Cecil Field.

Jacksonville Business Journal reports the authority expects to trim roughly $809,000 worth of salary and benefits, which is about 1.2% of its $65.1 million operating budget.

The authority has not identified how many jobs will be lost because it is looking for other means to cut expenses and or raise revenues, authority director of external affairs Michael Stewart tells me.

"Everybody is hoping the industry will turn around quickly," he says.

Capacity is down 8% year over year in Jacksonville.

Lost service includes ExpressJet flights to North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham International Airport and twice weekly flights to Denver operated by Frontier Airlines.

Other carriers have reduced frequencies or cut seat capacity by down gauging aircraft, Stewart says.

As more of a business rather than leisure destination, Jacksonville will probably not experience as severe job losses as more vacation-oriented destinations, he says.

Other airports may not be as fortuitous.

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) says airlines have already abandoned 60 communities and roughly 40 more communities will lose service this year. The airline group also says it is "not unrealistic" to expect as many as 200 communities could lose air service by early 2009.

In more upbeat Jacksonville news, authority executive director and CEO John Clark was elected chairman of Airport Council International–North America (ACI-NA) for 2009.

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