Delta AirLines and Northwest against bankruptcy

Delta and Northwest - two airlines in crisis - took steps yesterday aimed at gaining some breathing room in their attempts to avoid seeking bankruptcy protection.

Delta AirLines considered the sicker of the pair, said it would sell 11 Boeing 767-200 series jets for $190 million. It also said it would reduce flights from its hub in Cincinnati by 26 percent, a move that would eliminate 1,000 jobs.

Northwest, meanwhile, said it planned to resume talks today in Washington with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which struck the airline on Aug. 20. The union confirmed the negotiations on its telephone hotline.

Northwest, which has been operating with replacement workers, supervisors and contractors, also told the union it was prepared to give permanent jobs to the substitutes starting Tuesday. In that event, striking workers would not be entitled to get their jobs back even if the sides settle their dispute.

Investors' reaction to the developments was mixed. Shares of Delta remained unchanged, at $1.12; shares of Northwest fell 22 cents, to $3.37.

Both airlines have warned they will have to seek bankruptcy protection if they cannot cut costs drastically - and soon, reported The New York Times.

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