CHICAGO, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- United Airlines, which lost two jetliners to suicide hijackers on Sept. 11, is installing 3-foot-long steel reinforcing bars on the cockpit doors of its more than 500 planes to protect pilots.
United also is cutting more flights and will operate only 69 percent of its summer schedule after Nov. 1.
United spokesman Joe Hopkins confirmed the nation's second largest airline had received an emergency waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration allowing it to install the reinforced doors.
The new cockpit doors will include 3-foot-long steel girt bars and locking hardware inside the cockpit and will not have to go through the usual time-consuming FAA certification process.
"We have to go through the process of finding vendors to install the devices, but it should be done in about 30 days," Hopkins said.
Steel bars will be installed at the bottom, middle or top of the cockpit doorframes, depending on the type of aircraft.
United is retiring its older Boeing 727 and 737-200 aircraft but operates at least seven different types of Boeing and Airbus planes.
The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday Northwest and Continental airlines also were considering improvements to cockpit door security.
A senior United official told the Tribune Israel's El Al national airline has had a similar steel bar inside cockpit doors of its jetliners for several years.
"We need to put in a temporary fix now, for ourselves and for the peace of mind of our passengers," the airline official said.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta was expected to release the findings of two task forces on airline security measures as early as Tuesday. The reports will detail short-term and long-term solutions to improving cockpit security.
Some airlines would like aircraft manufacturers to install permanent hardened partitions between the cockpit and passenger cabin and some pilots would like to be armed to defend themselves against terrorists.
The Bush administration has resisted calls to federalize airport workers who screen passengers and carry-on baggage.
United Monday said it would shift service to six cities from United Airlines to United Express, its regional partner carrier, at the end of October.
United Express carrier Atlantic Coast Airlines will take over flights to and from Allentown, Pa., Knoxville, Tenn., Norfolk, Va., Portland, Maine, and Raleigh/Durham, N.C., while SkyWest, a shuttle operation of United Express, will fly between San Francisco and Santa Barbara, Calif.
United will end all service between Washington Dulles and Allentown, Pa.; Cincinnati, Canton and Akron, Ohio; Louisville, Ky., Knoxville, Tenn.; Portland and Eureka/Arcata, Ore.; Seattle and Eugene and Portland-Pasco, Ore.
United Express will end service in Bellingham, Wash.; Little Rock, Ark.; Lynchburg, Va.; Victoria, British Columbia, and Yakima, Wash.
Hopkins said United would have no problem meeting tighter security requirements at a reopened Washington Reagan International Airport, which has been close since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President George W. Bush announced Reagan airport will reopen Thursday with a federal sky marshal flying on every flight and passengers limited to one carry-on bag.
"We welcome any measures that make flying even safer than it is," Hopkins said.
To woo back business customers, United introduced new discounted business fares that do not require a Saturday night stay. Roundtrip "Back to Business" fares are priced 50 percent lower than current unrestricted business fares but must be purchased 21 days in advance.
A special business fare purchased 10 days before travel will carry at 25 percent discount.