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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 18:38 GMT
BAE closes regional jet programmes
BAE 146 aircraft
The 146 jet is still a popular city-hopper in Europe
Aerospace and defence group BAE Systems has announced it is closing its regional jet programmes.

"Regrettably it has been concluded that our regional jet business is no longer viable in this environment," said chief executive John Weston.

BAE job cuts:
Woodford: 993
Chadderton: 299
Prestwick: 219
Preston: 140
Bristol: 18
The group will cut almost 1,700 jobs in its plants in Preston, Bristol and Manchester in England and Prestwick in Scotland.

"This is a devastating blow for the country's aerospace industry. We will be consulting urgently with BAE to see if we can reduce the number of job losses," said the general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, Sir Ken Jackson.

The BAE job cuts came as the UK's leading travel operator, Airtours, slashed 1,600 jobs in order to cut costs.

Terror impact

BAE blamed a sharp fall in civil aerospace sales following 11 September.

"Since September the trading outlook in these markets has changed substantially," Mr Weston said.

The group said deliveries for its Airbus commercial jet is expected to fall to 300 aircraft next year.

This year, the company said it would deliver 320 Airbus aircraft.

Airbus is jointly owned by BAE and EADS, the European aerospace group.

BAE builds wings for the Airbus aircraft.

Models affected

BAE announced it will close its RJ and RJX regional jet programmes, though it will continue to build four regional jets already in production.

The closures would lead to 250m in exceptional charges towards redundancy and other costs.

The RJX aircraft, which was due to replace its RJ jets, would have had new avionics, new engines and new design features.

The closure of the program is expected to cost 400m.

The RJ jets was a successor to the 146 jets which were first built in the 1970s but are still popular city-hoppers in Europe.

Defence not affected

BAE's defence business would not be affected by the cuts.

Defence accounts for about 70% of the group's business.

BAE makes the Harrier, Hawk and Tornado combat jets and is the largest defence company in Europe.

In August, BAE cut 260 jobs at two plants in Lancashire.

In London, BAE shares closed 2.75p lower at 322.75p.

The BBC's Jonathan Hallewell
"Workers at the Woodford plant were clearly very shocked"

Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

27 Nov 01 | Business
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