Just 24 hours after Spanish airline bosses warned that redundancies look inevitable because of the drop in passengers, Palma-based airline Spanair yesterday met the Spanish pilots union Sepla to discuss possible way of “reducing operating costs.” While sources for the airline ruled out wage cuts “for the moment,” some of the measures on the table include an employment freeze and the renovation of “some” contracts. Spanair said that it does not intend to start laying staff off for the time being - “such a move will only be made as a last resort,” airline sources said. Spanair, like all Spanish and European airlines, has seen passenger figures fall over the past month since the terrorist attacks on the United States. Bookings for the first ten days of October, compared to the same period last month, on its flights from Madrid to Washington have dropped off by as much as 36 per cent, domestic passengers are down by ten per cent, European bookings by three per cent and inter-continental passengers are down by eight per cent. As a result, the airline intends to reduce capacity by between ten and 15 per cent while introducing a new series of services and products in order to try and revive passenger loads and rebuild the travelling public's confidence in the airline industry. But passenger figures for the forthcoming week released by Palma airport bosses yesterday paint a gloomy picture. In comparison to the same period last year, the number of people using Palma's Son San Joan airport over the next seven days will be down by five per cent. The sharpest drop is over this weekend with a forecast 6.1 per cent slump in passengers and a seven per cent fall in air traffic with Balearic travel agents confirming yesterday that the market has slowed down over the past few weeks with interest in overseas holidays falling steadily. The majority of Balearic hotels are closing up for the winter - many because winter bookings over the past few years have been poor or because they do not want to risk being hit by a low season slump.

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