Airline Hiring Taking Off as Travel Zooms

Morning Money Memo…

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It's getaway day for millions of Americans with the start of the Memorial Day weekend. The travel industry is set to enjoy its best summer since 2007, just before the recession hit. The airline industry is slowly adding jobs after shedding workers in recent years. And more hires are likely in the next few months. The U.S. Transportation Department says passenger airlines employed more than 383,000 full-time workers in March, up nearly 1 percent from last year. Delta Air Lines added the most jobs, followed by US Airways, American, and Jet Blue. Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air grew fastest in percentage terms, both posting double-digit gains. United Airlines and Southwest shed jobs.

The layoffs keep piling up at technology giant Hewlett Packard. "With the first half of our fiscal year completed, I'm pleased to report that HP's turnaround remains on track," says HP president and CEO Meg Whitman. But the company's quarterly report was a disappointment to investors, and even more so to employees. HP says it's cutting up to 16,000 jobs on top of the 34,000 previously announced. Company sales fell for the 11th straight quarter - down 1 percent this time - and its shares lost more than 2 percent Thursday. But with the cost cutting HP investors have enjoyed a prosperous year. The firm's share price gained about 15 percent since Jan. 1.

Federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes to the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service data. USA Today reports 318,462 federal employees owed back taxes as of last Sept. 30 - an increase of 2.6 percent from the previous year. That puts the average tax bill at $10,391, according to IRS data obtained by the newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act. But federal workers are better at paying their taxes than the average taxpayer. Their delinquency rate of 3.19 percent is far lower than the 8.7 percent for the population at large.

Federal environmental officials say they've reached a deal with Duke Energy to clean up its mess from a massive coal ash spill in February. Seventy miles of Dan River in North Carolina and Virginia were coated with toxic gray sludge. The EPA says it will oversee the cleanup by America's largest electricity company.

Standard & Poor's rating agency has upgraded Spain's sovereign credit grade a notch, the third agency to do so in recent months and a further sign the country is turning the corner after five years of economic turmoil. Spain still has a 26 percent unemployment rate. Another credit agency has upgraded Greece, which suffered a severe financial crisis

Federal safety regulators are investigating older Ram pickup trucks with manual transmissions because the engines can be started without the clutch being depressed. The investigation covers about 110,000 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups made by Chrysler from the 2004 through 2006 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has three complaints about the problem, including one fatal accident.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow