Jobs to be axed at Norwich International Airport

A string of senior managers at Norwich International Airport look set to lose their jobs as part of a shake-up, but the airport boss said difficult decisions were needed to steer it through tough economic times.

It is understood that nine managers and one director at the airport have been or will be made redundant in the weeks ahead.

Andrew Bell, who became the permanent chief executive at the airport in May after filling the role on a temporary basis since the sudden departure of former CEO Elliott Summers at the start of the year, said he could not give details of the numbers or roles of those facing redundancy.

But he said: 'We are going through a process of restructuring which is going to involve making redundancies.

'Because of the nature of the process I cannot go into any further details at this point, but in common with pretty much every business at the moment, I have had to ask what can we do with the business?

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'We need structural change and I have had to make difficult decisions. We are working the way through the process and we are consulting with those people.'

But he said passengers would not be affected by the changes and said: 'One of the things I am determined to preserve is customer service. 'The importance of safety and operations goes without saying and if anything we hope to be able to make improvements.

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'It's clearly going to be very bad news for the people who are in this process, given the economic situation, but as I have always said, we need to set up this airport to be a business which can operate in the current environment.

'I am trying to safeguard the other 189 jobs at the airport, the 800 plus jobs elsewhere on the airfield and the thousands involved in the supply line.

'I am absolutely certain this will move us in the right direction and it is not a retrograde step.'

Rumours also circulated yesterday that airline BMI was pulling its flights to Aberdeen - on which oil rig workers rely - from Norwich.

But both Mr Bell and BMI dismissed that speculation. The BMI spokesman said: 'We remain committed to Norwich International Airport, as always,'

The news of redundancies comes just weeks after the airport received a boost with new flights from Norwich to Sharm El Sheikh in Egyot.

The flights operated by Thomson Airways, were launched along with new winter sun direct services to Alicante and Tenerife, which will run until April next year.

But in recent years, the airport has suffered a series of blows, with services from the city axed or reduced, including direct flights to Paris by Flybe and to Barcelona and Palma by Spanish airline LTE.

Passenger numbers at the airport, which is 80pc owned by Omniport, with Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council retaining the remaining interest, fell by 30pc to 404,000 last year as the recession took its toll.

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