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Hotwire can't escape travel lull

Amid a general slowdown in air travel and a new partnership with Amazon, the Web travel agency lays off about 10 percent of its staff.

Amid a general slowdown in air travel and a new partnership with, Web travel agency laid off about 10 percent of its staff Tuesday.

The layoffs are a result of the travel slowdown that has hit the entire airline industry since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, said Amy Bohutinsky, a Hotwire spokeswoman. The company would not say exactly how many workers were laid off, but sources at the company said there were about 170 employees before the layoffs.

Many major carriers have announced layoffs and cuts in service since the attack. Hotwire, founded by America West, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, is the second airline-backed travel site to trim staff this week. Orbitz, which shares many of the same airline investors as Hotwire, also cut 10 percent of its work force Monday--about 17 employees.

But Bohutinsky said Hotwire believes the slowdown is temporary.

"We've seen our traffic and sales numbers increase dramatically over the last week," Bohutinsky said. "We're confident that volumes are going to return to normal. Our business continues to grow. That said, nobody could have anticipated the tragic events of Sept. 11."

On Wednesday, Hotwire launched a jointly operated travel store with Amazon and Net travel agency Expedia.