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Fri, Aug 31, 2007

BAA Prepares To Cut Jobs, Possibly Assets In Cost Cutting Measures

Cuts Restricted To Mainly Support Staff Positions; Security Unaffected

The UK Times reports airport operator BAA, in an effort to slash costs, is planning to eliminate as many as 2,000 jobs... and may go as far as selling off one or possibly more of its sites.

Ferrovial, the Spanish company that bought BAA in 2006 (and reportedly borrowed quite heavily to do so) has ordered each of its seven airports -- Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton -- to review and report on their staffing and overall costs.

The Times reported jobs will be cut in all areas except security, and will be done despite massive complaints over delays and deteriorating conditions at terminals.

Airlines are already voicing concerns the layoffs could mean further delays at airports already bursting at the seams. There's also an undercurrent of suspicion about the reasons behind such a decision.

"Any cuts which result in a deterioration in service in return for Ferrovial lining its pockets would be completely unacceptable to the traveling public. It sounds like a fast way of losing the few friends they have got left," said a spokesperson for easyJet.

Nigel Turner, chief executive of bmi, told the Times such a number of job cuts won't be cause for concern provided they're from positions that don't have a direct hand in actually running the airport.

"But I would be very concerned if there were any cuts to frontline staff," he said.

"There is no final number. This is a simplification exercise aimed at support staff much more than frontline staff. It's not simply about costs. It's about building a much leaner and more efficient business," said a BAA spokesperson.

An unidentified source told the Times, "Ferrovial have a huge debt burden and they can't sustain that. They are really drilling down costs and there is going to be a complete restructuring of the business."

BAA employs some 15,000 people worldwide. About 5,000 of its 13,000 British employees are involved in security. About 4,000 work in support positions such as human resources, IT and marketing while another two thousand pull duty in the duty free shops and some 1,000 hold jobs in airport operations like runway maintenance.

FMI: www.baa.com

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