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Attacks bring mixed news to military contractors, civil aviation officials

By Staff
From staff reports
Sept. 21, 2001
While last week's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington may ultimately have a negative impact on civilian air travel locally, Meridian's two aircraft contractors say their operations will not be affected.
Boeing officials announced earlier this week they will lay off 20,000 to 30,000 employees by the end of 2002.
The layoffs will not affect Boeing's Meridian facility, spokesman Pat Frost said Thursday.
The operation, located at Naval Air Station Meridian, employs about 250 people and supports the 50 T-45Cs stationed there.
Frost declined to comment on any possible expansion of the NAS Meridian group.
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. employs 115 people at a plant in the Sonny Montgomery Industrial Park. Plant manager Steve Cobb said he does not anticipate any changes.
The plant manufactures major sub-assemblies for the C-130J cargo plane and the F-22 fighter jet.
Meridian Regional Airport
In the aftermath of last week's turorist attacks, civilian air travel has dropped and major airline companies have announced massive layoffs.
In addition to 20,000 to 30,000 layoffs at Boeing, major news venues are reporting that 20,000 people will be laid off at both American Airlines and United Airlines. Continental officials have announced that 12,000 will lose their jobs, while 11,000 will be laid off at U.S. Airways.
Northwest officials said earlier this week that they planned to announce layoffs by today, but have already taken steps to eliminate flights at smaller airports including Meridian Regional Airport.
Tom Williams, president of the Meridian Airport Authority, said Northwest will reduce the number of daily flights to Memphis from three to two as part of a nationwide service reduction of 20 percent. The change takes effect Oct. 1.
Meridian is one of six cities where Northwest plans to discontinue service. The others are: Thief River Falls, Minn.; Escanaba, Mich.; Watertown, S.D.; Mason City, Iowa; and Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Airport authority optimistic
Williams said travelers are returning to the airport, which was closed the day of the terrorist attacks. It re-opened about 4 p.m. two days later.
Williams said ASA/Delta has not announced any reductions in Meridian service.
The airline currently offers four flights a day to Atlanta, and two to Dallas.