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Belfast International Airport announces voluntary redundancy programme

Rebecca Black, PA

Belfast International Airport has announced a programme of voluntary redundancies due to the impact of coronavirus on air travel.

Managing director Graham Keddie said they estimate losing up to 45 employees out of a total workforce of 195.

He announced the move with “deep regret and sadness”, blaming the “devastating impact” of the pandemic on air travel.

Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie (Handout/PA)

“I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work, loyalty and dedication,” he said.

“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on both airlines and airports and the recent announcement by the UK Government about imposing quarantine on arrivals will only exacerbate this further.

“We do not foresee air travel returning to pre-Covid-19 levels for a few years and therefore we have no alternative but to take this difficult decision to reduce our staff numbers.”

Mr Keddie said keeping the airport open throughout the pandemic to facilitate emergency medical flights and supplies as well as deliveries and essential cargo cost them £60,000 a day.

“We cannot continue to operate at this level,” he said.

“As we move to reopen for passenger flights in the coming days we regret that we have to make this announcement.

“We know it will take time for air travel to recover and this is a measure of last resort.”

Stormont economy minister Diane Dodds expressed her sadness at the news.

“It is always regrettable when there are job losses in any sphere whatsoever and I fear that the impact on our economy will be very great indeed,” she said.

“We have been operating with only a fraction of the connectivity that we’ve had. I understand that easyJet and Jet2 are restarting operations from Belfast International Airport and of course I’m in constant contact with the department of transport to try and sustain our airports through a time of very great crisis.

“Restoring connectivity and growing the economy and restarting the economy again go hand in hand.”