Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Jobs risk as airline axes flights

BMI plane
BMI will stop its Chicago service in January

UK airline BMI is to stop long-haul flights from Manchester Airport, putting up to 140 jobs at risk.

Services to Chicago will end in January 2009, with flights to Las Vegas, Antigua and Barbados after Easter.

The firm, which last week revealed it was being taken over by German airline Lufthansa, said the routes were not profitable enough.

It comes less than two weeks after British Airways flew its last long-haul flight from the airport.

BMI introduced its long-haul flights to the United States and the Caribbean in 2001.

But company chief executive Nigel Turner said the services had never performed to the levels he had hoped.

Both BMI and BA are flag-carrying British airlines and that leaves only Virgin as a British airline doing transatlantic services
Manchester Airport spokesman

"It is of course extremely disappointing but we have come to the conclusion that our Manchester long-haul services are unsustainable," said Mr Turner.

"Our Chicago service has been at best a moderate success up to this year. However, a combination of higher fuel prices, increased competition and the impact of open skies at Heathrow has had a serious negative impact on the route's viability.

"We see little prospect of change or improvements in the performance of these long-haul services from Manchester."

The company is to move its two Airbus A330s to Heathrow and concentrate on its services there, affecting Manchester-based operational staff.

A 90-day consultation period with staff and unions is now under way. Staff will be offered posts created at Heathrow.

Passengers 'not affected'

A spokesman for Manchester Airport admitted it was a blow and said: "It's not good news and it's a real sad story.

"The aviation market, just like many parts of the economy across the world, is shrinking.

"Manchester Airport, all of our airlines, the 350 businesses here - we're not immune to that.

"Both BMI and BA are flag-carrying British airlines and that leaves only Virgin as a British airline doing transatlantic services."

The spokesman said that the routes operated by BMI were still served by other airlines and so passengers would not be affected.

"We've still got about 220 destinations, so Manchester is still an airport on a par with the likes of JFK, Schipol and Brussels - so we're still a big airport."

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SEE ALSO
BMI being taken over by Lufthansa
29 Oct 08 |  Business
Airline's final runway departure
25 Oct 08 |  Manchester

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