Belfast City Airport staff face temporary lay-off, union warns

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

  • Published
George Best Belfast City Airport
Image caption,
The staff are among 150 workers at Belfast City Airport employed by Swissport

A trade union has said some baggage handlers and check-in staff are facing a temporary lay-off from Belfast City Airport.

It follows the collapse of Flybe, which accounted for about 80% of the airport's flights.

The staff are among 150 workers at the airport employed by Swissport, the air services firm.

The airport said it was "continuing its negotiations with a number of airlines" to fill the Flybe routes.

"We understand this is a difficult time for all employees at the airport, but we hope to have positive news in the coming weeks," its statement added.

It is understood that cleaners are also affected by the lay-off plan.

Swissport said the Flybe news had come at a "very challenging time for the industry".

'Totally unacceptable response'

"As a business, we have a responsibility to carefully consider the impact this has on our company and identify the best outcome for all our employees and partners across the business," a spokesperson said.

They added that "consultations with members of the Swissport team at Belfast City Airport are ongoing".

George Brash, from the Unite union, said union representatives were called to a briefing on Friday.

He said they were told about a proposal for a 14-day unpaid stand-down period - in effect a temporary lay-off .

Mr Brash said it was a "totally unacceptable" response by Swissport.

"This is not a company that needs to threaten the income of their employees in the aftermath of the Flybe collapse," he added.

"Indeed, with the prospect that many, if not all, former Flybe routes could be taken on by other airlines this is an unnecessary and unacceptable response rooted in a short-term desire simply to maximise profits."

He added that the union was taking advice on the legality of an unpaid lay-off.