Canadian aviation firm cuts 2,000 jobs in Belfast

Employment
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The Independent Online

The terrorist attacks in America continued to take a huge toll on the global aviation industry yesterday when Shorts of Belfast announced 2,000 job losses.

The terrorist attacks in America continued to take a huge toll on the global aviation industry yesterday when Shorts of Belfast announced 2,000 job losses.

The company, which employs 7,600 workers and builds the fuselage and engine coverings for a range of airliners, will scrap 890 jobs before February. A further 1,100 are expected to go by the end of 2002.

The news came as the US-based Delta airline announced plans to cut 13,000 jobs in the next few months because of "dramatically lower demand". Capacity at Delta will be cut by 15 per cent from November, while from March flights from New York to Dublin and Shannon will be suspended indefinitely.

Northern Ireland's acting first minister, Sir Reg Empey, who is also the Stormont Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, said the job losses were a "devastating blow". He has contacted Tony Blair to seek government help for Shorts, owned by the Canadian group Bombardier. David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, urged the Government to adopt similar measures to those taken by President Bush to aid US airlines.

Roger Lyons, general secretary of the Manufacturing Science Finance union, accused the company of a "knee-jerk reaction", although the company insisted that it was being "cautious".

Mr Lyons said: "We will be asking some serious questions about how the company got from a solid order book and good prospects to 2,000 job cuts in two short weeks."

A company spokesman said it was revising production and staffing levels because of a reduction in the number of aircraft it would build this year. The spokesman said it would lay off 3,800 workers in Britain, Canada and America before the end of the year and, if markets did not recover markedly, a further 2,700 could lose their jobs next year.

Airlines in America and on the Continent continued to shed thousands more jobs and suspend projects. British Airways suspended its refurbishment of intercontinental aircraft.

Air Canada, which had already announced 4,000 lay-offs, yesterday increased the figure to 9,000. The Scandinavian airline SAS warned that it was to shed 1,100 jobs and reduce capacity by 12 per cent, while the Estonian national carrier grounded its whole fleet. Alitalia, the struggling Italian flag carrier, said it would cut 2,500 of its 21,000 workforce.

US Airways said it would "retire" 111 aircraft from its fleet by April.

The American and European aviation industry is thought to have lost more than 140,000 jobs since the attacks.

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