BA says job loss claim is no bluff

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The Independent Online
British Airways reacted angrily yesterday to suggestions that it was bluffing over job losses at Heathrow .

The airline, which also dismissed rumours of an out of court settlement of its dirty-tricks row with Virgin Atlantic, says 7,000 jobs would be lost unless the proposed Heathrow Terminal 5 was built. Opponents of the expansion believe that if the terminalproject does not go ahead the jobs would simply be created at other airports.

But BA, in submissions to the the public inquiry into Terminal 5, says there is no alternative. The airline, which would be the main user of the proposed terminal, said 3,000 existing jobs would go and 4,000 new posts would not be created.

Sir Colin Marshall, the BA chairman, said: "With Terminal 5, Heathrow's position and status as the world's leading international airport will be underpinned and the very significant contribution which it makes to the UK economy will continue to grow.

"The employment of those whose jobs depend on the airport, both at and in the vicinity of Heathrow and elsewhere in the UK, will be secured."

Gatwick cannot be expanded, and Stanstead and regional airports are too remote to attract many more passengers, he said. BA's core business would be at risk and future prospects damaged without a fifth Heathrow terminal. BA employs 30,000 people at Heathrow.

The airline is facing an anti-expansion campaign by local councils, environment groups and the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise.

BA rejected any suggestion of settling the $1bn (£632m) anti-trust court case being brought by Virgin. Reports that Sir Colin believed that the high court costs would lead both sides to settle out of court were untrue, a BA spokesman said. "Anything is possible, but we are not considering an out-of-court settlement and will vigorously defend the action.''

Last week a US court gave Virgin the go-ahead to bring the action, which alleges that BA used its monopoly power at Heathrow to freeze out competitors.

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