Hundreds of grounded Eastern Airlines workers crowded into unemployment offices in Miami to file for benefits and seek jobs elsewhere.
Things couldn't be going much worse for flight attendant Kathleen Tibbetts.She lost her job of 23 years with the Miami-based carrier last Friday when the 62-year-old airline shut down; in October her husband was laid off. She already has sold her car, and family savings are dwindling fast.
"It's critical at this point," she said Tuesday. "It's a bad time. We're in the middle of a recession. We're in the middle of a war."
Eastern's demise came nearly two years after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy five days into a crippling strike. Soaring fuel costs, stiff competition and a weakening economy also helped push Eastern to collapse.
Others have shown interest in the airline's assets. Northwest Airlines said Tuesday it would purchase Eastern's facilities at Washington's National Airport for $23.2 million.
On Monday, Delta Air Lines said it would buy 18 Eastern gates and other facilities at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport for $41.4 million.
About 500 Eastern workers inquired about benefits and job listings Tuesday at a makeshift claims office set up by the state's Department of Labor.
Department supervisor Don Gross said he expected about 10,000 of Eastern's 18,000 workers to file for aid in South Florida.