Vail to cut 100 jobs

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DENVER (AP) -- Vail Resorts said Tuesday it would cut 100 jobs in case the travel industry suffers a setback this winter because of the declining economy and possibility of war.

The unusual move prior to the start of ski season came as the Avon-based company said its fourth-quarter loss widened to $35 million from $19 million in the fourth quarter of 2001.

The cuts include 50 layoffs and 50 vacant positions that will not be filled, the company said. Some top positions were included. Last week, the job of president was eliminated.

Vail employs 3,100 people full-time and has 15,500 seasonal workers.

There have not been layoffs in a major ski resort in Colorado in recent years at the start of a ski season.

In addition, Vail Resorts planned other cost-cutting measures to save a total of $10 million.

"We have targeted those back-of-house and overhead areas that are not expected to affect guest services," chief executive officer Adam Aron said.

For the quarter that ended July 31, Vail posted revenues of $82 million, up from $62.6 million in the same period of 2001. Its per share loss was $1 a share, compared with 54 cents a share the previous year.

Aron said Vail had suffered like other travel industries companies because of the economic decline and terrorist attacks.

"However, in the aftermath of September 11, we believe our performance was a moral victory," said Aron. He said the real estate market remains strong and ski reservations are up with the company hoping for a small increase in skier numbers this season.

In addition to the job cuts, Vail Resorts planned to delay opening dates for Keystone and Breckenridge, partly to reduce costs and also to conserve water for snowmaking in the face of a record-setting drought. Ski lift operation hours will be reduced during slow periods.

Vail Resorts operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge ski areas in Colorado and Heavenly Valley at South Lake Tahoe, Calif. It also owns the Grand Teton Lodge Co. in Jackson, Wyo.