Low-fare carrier bmibaby is set to close later this year, threatening the loss of hundreds of jobs and the ending of its flights.
The carrier transferred to International Airlines Group, the owners of British Airways, last month, but consultations have now started with unions about its closure in September.
The GMB union said last night it was “devastating” news, especially for the East Midlands, where hundreds of jobs are now threatened with the axe.
With bmi Regional, bmibaby transferred to International Airlines Group ownership on completion of the purchase from Lufthansa.
IAG has consistently said that bmibaby and bmi Regional are not part of its long-term plans.
Peter Simpson, bmi interim managing director, added: “We recognise that these are unsettling times for bmibaby employees, who have worked tirelessly during a long period of uncertainty.
“To help stem losses as quickly as possible and as a preliminary measure, we will be making reductions to bmibaby’s flying programme from June. We sincerely apologise to all customers affected and will be providing full refunds and doing all we can with other airlines to mitigate the impact of these changes.”
The changes mean that all bmibaby flights to and from Belfast will cease from June 11, although this will not affect bmi mainline’s services to London Heathrow.
bmibaby services from East Midlands to Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva, Nice, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newquay, and from Birmingham to Knock and Amsterdam, will end on the same date.
Colin Whyatt, of the GMB union, said: “This is absolutely devastating news which puts 800 jobs at risk, almost half in the East Midlands.
“bmibaby had been reorganised last year and GMB members hoped it would be sold. Two potential bidders have pulled out and unless a new bidder comes forward in the next 90 days, these jobs will go, on top of 1,200 jobs lost from the reorganisation of BMI.”
IAG warned last month that the takeover of BMI was likely to lead to up to 1,200 job losses. Positions facing the axe are at BMI’s head office at Castle Donington in Derbyshire and at regional airports, although IAG said that, without the acquisition, all 2,700 jobs at BMI could have been lost.