Delta to cut 10% of international flights

Additional capacity cuts seen for world's largest air carrier amid volatile fuel prices and sinking demand.

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By Julianne Pepitone, contributing writer

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NEW YORK ( -- Delta Air Lines will cut its international flights by an additional 10% starting in September as volatile fuel prices and sinking demand pressure the struggling airline industry, according to a memo released Tuesday.

Delta (DAL, Fortune 500), the world's largest carrier, said it would target its Atlantic and Pacific networks, where revenue is weakest.

The memo, which CEO Richard Anderson and president Edward H. Bastian sent to Delta's 70,000 employees worldwide, also said Delta's trans-Atlantic capacity this winter will be down 11-13% compared to winter 2008. Its trans-Pacific capacity will be down 12-14%.

"We remain focused on our goal to build a diversified, profitable worldwide network," the memo said.

The cuts are in addition to Delta's December announcement to reduce 2009 capacity by 6-8%. The company expects flights in Latin America will be up slightly in the fourth quarter, the memo said.

Nearly 2,100 employees will leave the company voluntarily over the next several months, according to the memo, but the company fell short of goals in certain positions and geographic locations.

As a result Delta "must reassess our staffing needs" and hopes to reach its target through another voluntary exit program, the memo said.

Travel demand has plummeted across the globe due to the global economic slowdown, as volatile fuel prices have put additional pressure on the sluggish airline sector.

As a result, air carriers have struggled to cut costs to stay afloat. European low-fare airline Ryanair announced in February it was considering charging customers to use the bathrooms on the plane.

At 10:41 a.m. ET, Delta's shares were up 10 cents, or more than 2%, to $4.28. To top of page

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