Belfast Telegraph

60 airport jobs in balance as bmi to close Belfast City Airport base

By Margaret Canning

Airline bmi’s new owner British Airways is expected to close bmi’s Belfast base, putting at least 60 jobs at risk.

Bmi, which has been losing around £3m per week, employs 100 staff in Belfast — 60 customer service staff, 30 cabin crew and 10 engineers.

However, bmi’s route between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow will continue until at least October. Trade unions are in consultation with BA over its plans to cut 1,200 posts from bmi’s 2,700-strong UK workforce.

David McMurray of trade union Unite said: “We have information they are going to close the Belfast base and make people redundant, but this union won’t accept it.

“The connection between Heathrow and Belfast is a profitable, viable flight and it was their most profitable one, used by civil servants and politicians.”

“British Airways hasn’t communicated to the staff if there’s an alternative to closure.”

It’s understood the jobs of customer service staff would be made redundant, though some of the roles could be transferred to aviation service operators. Cabin crew and engineers are expected to be offered the option to relocate to London or commute there.

A spokeswoman for BA said redundancies were not being decided on the basis of geographical location. She said the Belfast to Heathrow summer schedule would continue as planned but that by winter 2012 “there may be some change to the number of flights and the size of the aircraft”.

One shocked employee said: “Bmi has given a huge commitment to this region both economically and from an aviation point of view.”

British Airways has previously closed so-called ‘cabin crew bases’ in Glasgow and Manchester.

Aviation expert Laurie Price said: “I don’t think they would do anything different in Belfast.”

Story so far

International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British Airways, last year agreed to pay Lufthansa £172.5m for bmi. Loss-making bmi was an attractive proposition because of its 56 landing slots at Heathrow. The European Commission approved the deal last month — but Virgin Atlantic said it would appeal because buying bmi gives IAG “complete market dominance”.

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