BMI restructuring culls A330s and threatens 600 jobs

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Lufthansa's UK carrier BMI is to hand back two of its three Airbus A330s as it cuts nine aircraft from its mainline fleet, part of a restructuring which could involve shedding at least 600 positions.

The restructuring will involve axing loss-making routes from London Heathrow - among them Brussels, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Kiev and Aleppo - in the first quarter of 2010.

BMI will also adjust capacity to meet demand and take advantage of the potential for synergies with its German parent.

Leases on two of its three A330s will not be extended when they expire in the first half of 2010, essentially ending BMI's ill-fated attempt to establish a solid long-haul operation.

BMI will cut its overall mainline fleet to 30 aircraft, a reduction of nine including two Embraer jets which will be returned to its BMI Regional arm. This will result in Regional having, in total, three excess aircraft.

"The company is in discussion with potential customers with a view to mitigating this situation," it says.

The fleet cuts at BMI and its regional division will put around 600 jobs at risk, and the carrier warns that further cuts "cannot be ruled out" because of the need to bring down corporate overheads. BMI employs some 4,470 personnel.

"Management has today commenced consultations with unions and staff representatives with a view to minimising the number of compulsory job losses wherever possible," it adds.

Under the restructuring, which has Lufthansa's backing, BMI's network will concentrate on UK and European services as well as its Central Asian and Middle Eastern operations.

"Once stabilised, the business can then be grown again in the years ahead when the economic environment improves and market demand justifies it," says BMI.

BMI detailed a restructuring of its low-cost operation, BMIbaby, at the beginning of the month.