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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
UK airlines 'need government aid'
BA aircraft
British Airways has frozen recruitment
Pilots' leaders are seeking government aid to help safeguard airline industry jobs and services made vulnerable by the US terror attacks.

Airlines in Britain are facing the possibility of widespread job cuts as a result of increased costs for security, lower demand for flights and the knock-on effect of cancelled flights in recent days.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said airlines in the US are being given state funding to help them through difficulties facing the industry.


Britain has among the highest standards of safety and security

Christopher Darke
Balpa
Balpa general secretary Christopher Darke said British airlines of all sizes need similar support.

"The airline industry is a strategic industry and like farming it needs help of a temporary nature to offset job losses and financial difficulties," he said.

"The government should also join with Balpa and the rest of the industry to tell the British public that it is safe to fly and that Britain has among the highest standards of safety and security."

The Manufacturing Science and Finance Union has joined the call for government aid.

General secretary Roger Lyons said: "BA is one of the country's premier employers and should be helped. The government needs to consider the economic victims of this tragedy."

Shares slide

Airlines worldwide have been badly hit by the impact of Tuesday's tragic events, with US carrier Continental cutting 25% of its flights and giving 12,000 staff a leave of absence.

BA has introduced a recruitment freeze.

Last year BA's transatlantic operations accounted for more than one third of its 9.3bn revenue.

In the wake of the terror attacks BA saw its share price dip to 165p - earlier in the year the shares had been trading as high as 463p.

Earlier in the year BA announced 1,800 job cuts from its 62,000-strong global workforce.


It is too soon to be talking about any detailed impact on our business

BA spokeswoman

Unions had already been expecting around another 2,000 job losses but now fear the final figure will be much higher.

One newspaper report estimated that the firm could shed 6,000 jobs.

A BA spokeswoman said it was too soon to be talking in detail about the effect the US attacks would have.

"Obviously under the circumstances and as a responsible company there are things we are doing such as tightly managing our expenditure.

"But it is important to be calm and considered, to make sure the business gets through okay," she said.

Review

Virgin Airways and British Midland have both said they are monitoring the situation but stressed job cuts were not currently being considered.

Virgin said a review has been ongoing since the attacks, but that no decisions had yet been taken.

A spokesman for British Midland said: "We have not noticed a dramatic change in flight traffic on our (non-US) flights since the tragedy."

He said passengers had been offered refunds on flights since Tuesday but there had been a "very small" uptake.

"We carry a lot of business passengers and I expect it will be the leisure industry that is worst hit in the short term."

Analysts believe that any long-term changes in security measures at airports could hit budget carriers, which rely on a quick turn-around of passengers to keep costs low.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sue Littlemore
"Passengers seem pleased not irritated"
The BBC's Susanna Reid
reports from Heathrow Airport in London

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See also:

17 Sep 01 | Business
Virgin Atlantic cuts 1,200 jobs
15 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe reviews aircraft safety
14 Sep 01 | Business
Airlines bankruptcy warning
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