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DENVER-Fearing the toll on the local economy, Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb has asked US Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for help in identifying federal programs to assist laid-off airline workers. Not only is Denver losing thousands of jobs, but restaurants, bars and retailers at the Denver International Airport are being battered by a drop in travel and new safety precautions following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Webb made the request during a conference call with Mineta and several other mayors from major cities across the country.

Webb also expressed support for the current airline assistance package providing $5 billion in cash and $10 billion in loan guarantees.

Mayor Webb also convened a meeting between city employment and training officials as well as airline union officials, chamber of commerce leaders and Denver International Airport officials to discuss the impacts of announced and possible future lay-offs in the airline industry.

“There is obvious fear and angst amongst airline employees,” Webb says. “We have a responsibility to assist these employees as they face the prospect of unemployment.”

Most mayors expressed similar fears relating to airline job layoffs, potential airline bankruptcies and the effects on local economies.

Airlines have announced more than 100,000 layoffs since the attacks.

New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, president of the US Conference of Mayors, announced that a conference on Safety and Security in American cities will be held in the next month. He also cautioned about the financial impact that was being felt by airport retailers and concessionaires.

Many U.S. airports, including DIA, are funded through enterprise funds that rely on revenues from taxes and rents paid by airlines and concessionaires. Local tax and fee relief for airlines is difficult because cities rely on these revenue streams, Webb says.

Webb suggests a mechanism that allows non-ticketed passengers to once again be allowed onto the concourses. This is important not only for the financial health of the concessions, but also for disabled patrons of the airport, Webb contends.

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