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Thousands Face Layoffs at British Airways - 2001-09-20

Europe's biggest airline, British Airways, is laying off 7,000 employees. The airline says it anticipates a steep decline in air travel following last week's suicide plane attacks in the United States.

British Airways says it will lay off one out of every eight employees and cut the number of flights by 10 percent in response to a sharp fall in trans-Atlantic business.

Chief executive Rod Eddington says his company is making tough decisions in the face of exceptional conditions. He said the terrorist attacks in the United States last week, in his words, "will undoubtedly have a significant impact" on the demand for air travel in the months ahead.

British Airways is the latest victim in the downturn in air travel. Major U.S. carriers have announced thousands of layoffs since the suicide hijackings.

Airlines expect the terrorist attacks will lead to higher costs for security and insurance, as well as a decline in the number of passengers.