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Industry Update and Commentary 1Dec04

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  • Bill Koumarelos
    Up to 31 people have been killed and many more injured after a jet carrying 153 passengers and crew crashed on landing in heavy rain in Indonesia s central
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1 7:24 AM

      Up to 31 people have been killed and many more injured after a jet carrying 153 passengers and crew crashed on landing in heavy rain in Indonesia's central Java.

      Indonesia's Metro TV said 31 were dead and "tens" more hurt.

      The accident happened on Tuesday as the McDonnell-Douglas MD-82, operated by budget domestic carrier Lion Air, landed in Solo city from the capital, Jakarta, around dusk.

      At least one wing ripped off the plane, which came to rest in a nearby cemetery surrounded by rice fields after skidding off the runway, witnesses said. The fuselage was badly damaged, they added.

      "There are many victims that have not been identified. Not all have been evacuated," Andre Iskandar, head of the Solo airport, said.

      "It's raining right now. Everyone is trying to help, but it is so chaotic, it looks like a market place."

      Ambulances rushed to the scene as armed soldiers cordoned off the area.

      Officials said the dead and injured had been taken to five hospitals in the city, which lies in the heart of Indonesia's main island of Java.

      Survivors said the accident happened without warning.

      "At the time the plane had landed and I was about to unbuckle my seat belt. Suddenly the lights went out and the plane lurched forward and went off the runway," passenger Devi Setiabakti, a government worker, told reporters.

      "From what I saw, those who died were at the front of the plane."

      Lion Air is a popular local budget carrier, one of many to spring up in Indonesia in recent years.

      The plane was carrying 146 passengers and seven crew.

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      The national executive board of the Communications Workers of America, which represents 6,000 ticket, reservation and gate agents at the airline, voted unanimously to let the union's president call a walkout, if necessary.

      Flight attendants at US Airways are also considering a strike if they lose their contract.

      US Airways has asked a bankruptcy court judge to abrogate collective bargaining agreements covering airport ground workers, mechanics and flight attendants if the three unions do not voluntarily agree to concessions worth at least USD$500 million annually.The airline's pilots have already agreed to long-term givebacks.

      A hearing on the company's motion to throw out union contracts and terminate two pension plans, for flight attendants and mechanics, is scheduled for Thursday in Alexandria, Virginia.

      The CWA members voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to authorize their leaders to call a strike.

      Strike authorization ballots were mailed last week to some 5,000 US Airways flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants.

      Talks between the carrier and its unions resumed on Monday.

      A CWA spokesman said the union was hopeful a giveback agreement could be reached before Thursday, but negotiators were not optimistic.

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      100 Delta Pilots decided to take retirement as of last night.

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