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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Delta Air Lines sneezed this week and city officials wonder if their airport could catch a cold.
Delta, which accounted for more than 73 percent of Salt Lake City International's passenger traffic last year, reported a $387 million first quarter loss, and CEO Gerald Grinstein said "continued losses of this magnitude are unsustainable."
"Is operating an airport a risky business?" City Councilman Dale Lambert asked airports director Tim Campbell during the airport's yearly budget presentation this week.
"It is right now," Campbell said.
Campbell told the council that it could continue to expect bad financial news from Delta until the airline reworks wage agreements with its pilots. The company has been seeking a 30 percent pay cut from pilots.
Campbell said even if Delta were to go into bankruptcy it likely would rebound eventually.
"It's very difficult to kill an airline," he said.
Nevertheless, negative airline numbers do affect the airport, Campbell said.
Fiscal year 2005 revenues are expected to decrease by $841,400 from the projected 2004 revenues of $82.1 million, due to a reduction in terminal concessions stemming from a 2 percent decline in passengers.
The number of passengers has declined steadily since 1996, when there were 10.5 million. For 2004, the airport is expected to have 9 million passengers.
Meanwhile, the airport is forging ahead with reconstruction of parking lots, roadways and rental car lots while waiting to redesign the terminals until probably 2011 or 2012, as demand dictates.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)