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Federal mediators try to resolve USAir strike

USAir struggled through the second day of a strike by its mechanics Tuesday, with nearly 40 percent of its flights still grounded.

USAir Group spokesman David Shipley said the airline, the nation's sixth-largest, operated about the same schedule as it did Monday, when about 55 percent of a normal day's flights took off, and intends to add to its schedule daily.

The airline has been able to keep most of its schedule intact because pilots and flight attendants continue to work.

At Tampa International Airport, only 29 of the usual 49 jet flights were operating. The airline tried to fill in some of the gaps by adding turbo-prop USAir Express flights to Miami, Key West and Fort Lauderdale.

Operations at the USAir Shuttle and USAir Express, where workers are under different contracts, are unaffected by the strike.

The the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers struck USAir Monday morning after contract talks adjourned without agreement on job security issues, which have been the main sticking point.

The union, which represents 8,300 USAir workers, including aircraft mechanics, cleaning crews and stock clerks, maintains that its members are being asked for deeper cuts than those requested of other employees, including USAir pilots.

If USAir can maintain most of its flight schedule while ground crews are walking picket lines, it might not need to lure passengers back with post-strike discounts that could set off industrywide fare cutting.

Airlines historically have offered deals to regain passengers after strikes. With the tight competition this year, other carriers may have to match any promotion that lasts more than a few days, analysts and airline executives said Tuesday.

A federal mediator shuttled between management and labor negotiators Tuesday trying to end the walkout. Mediation is scheduled to continue today.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration stepped up inspections of the Arlington, Va.-based carrier's maintenance operations as a precautionary step to make sure safety is maintained during the strike.

_ Information from staff writer Bill Adair, the Washington Post and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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