BA axes 1,800 jobs and warns of more cost-cutting to come

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More than 1,800 jobs are to be axed at British Airways by the end of the financial year with "even more" to go the year after, the company revealed yesterday.

The reduction in the workforce, which will affect a wide range of jobs throughout the group including engineers, cabin crew and customer services staff, is part of a cost-cutting exercise to cope with a steep downturn in business.

The cutbacks come on top of 1,000 job losses announced last December at Gatwick as part of the company's strategy of switching most long haul services to Heathrow.

BA's management, led by the chief executive, Rod Eddington, said it hoped the fresh cutback could be achieved through voluntary redundancies, ceasing recruitment and by not replacing people who leave. Some full-time staff would be offered part-time work.

A senior BA manager said: "We are not going to show people the door tonight. It's going to be a rolling process, which we hope to complete painlessly." More than 3,000 jobs were lost by the company during the last financial year without the need for compulsory redundancy, he pointed out.

British Airways has been badly affected by the economic slowdown and the foot-and-mouth epidemic, which took a heavy toll on the transatlantic trade. Brokers have warned that BA could fall into loss in the current financial year and that it could be forced to cut its dividend. The group made a profit of £150m in the last financial year and £40m in the first quarter of this financial year.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union said: "These cutbacks show that the recession in manufacturing is spreading to the service industry."