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Airlines in crisis: BMI cuts jobs in 'volatile' climate.

Byline: Steve Pain

Hundreds more jobs were lost in the UK aviation industry yesterday after East-Midlands airline BMI said it was cutting flights and jobs because of falling demand for air travel in the wake of the attacks in the United States last month.

BMI, which flies to European and transatlantic destinations, said it would ground eight of its 62 aircraft and cut its seat capacity by 20 per cent for the winter timetable, which starts on October 28.

The airline also said it expected to cut up to 600 jobs from its 5,500-strong workforce and was in talks with trade unions and employees.

BMI added said the total number of passengers it carried in September was only 4.5 per cent lower than during the same month a year ago, but that it expected the full impact of the changing market conditions to show in the fourth quarter.

BMI, which flies to America from Manchester as well as operating an extensive European route programme, said there had been a reduction in business class travel and lower levels of business throughout the network since the September 11 outrage.

Chairman Sir Michael Bishop said: 'Our intention is to operate lower capacity aircraft wherever possible and to maintain the present network.

'The airline industry is in a volatile phase at the moment and it is impossible to predict if our prospects will deteriorate or be improved by the actions of other carriers.'

The airline said it would consider applications for voluntary redundancy and said it was doing all it could to reduce compulsory lay-offs.

However, union officials said they were shocked by the size of cutbacks.

TGWU transport national secretary Tim Lyle said the decision was 'yet more disastrous news for aviation workers.

'With over 400 cabin crew members at British Midland, the T&G will be demanding involvement in the talks as to how these job cuts will be handled,' Mr Lyle said.

British Airways - which has already announced thousands of job cuts - yesterday confirmed it had suffered a huge dip in passenger numbers last month, showing the full extent of the crisis facing aviation after the jet hijack atrocities in the United States.

BA had already been experiencing a downturn in passenger numbers before the civilian massacres on September 11.

The airline revealed that it carried 3.32 million passengers last month - an 11.6 per cent drop on the September 2000 total.

BA said forward bookings for this month indicated that traffic for October 2001 would be around 25 per cent to 30 per cent down on October 2000.

BA added: 'We are in a sound position in spite of the immediate revenue pressure, having responded quickly with a series of measures to reduce the scale of our business.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 4, 2001
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