Jobs soon to be lost at island aviation hangar

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 28th July 2022 7:00 am
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It is believed around 11 people will lose their jobs at the West Atlantic Aviation Maintenance hangar, according to an MHK.

The heavy engineering and aircraft maintenance facility at Ronaldsway Aiport currently employs 13 people to service and maintain Manx Airlines’ fleet of around 40 aircraft.

Stu Peters said in the Tynwald sitting last week he had been ‘led to believe’ 11 people would lose their jobs from the facility.

Manx Airlines was sold to British Airways in 2001 and Hangar 5 continued to maintain the majority of the aircraft but this ended with the acquisition of BA’s regional operation by Flybe in 2007.

It was announced that all heavy maintenance would be transferred to Exeter which resulted in many employees being redeployed whilst others were made redundant.

Since then, the facility has operated in a reduced capacity, servicing the British Aerospace ATP aircraft operated by West Atlantic Airlines.

However, West Atlantic announced at the end of last month that the ATP would be replaced by another aircraft type, the maintenance for which would be carried out in Scandinavia.

Despite a five year lease only recently being signed for the facility, it was decided all staff but two required for line maintenance support would be made redundant.

This happened within a week of the announcement and all engineering ceased.

Mr Peters asked Department for Enterprise member Tim Johnston, standing in for former minister Tim Crookall, how many jobs were lost and why.

He said: ‘It is always disappointing to hear of potential redundancies with any local business. It will be, of course, a very worrying time for those employees and their families.

‘The department has engaged with the company throughout the current situation and has offered to provide assistance to both the business and affected employees.

‘Ultimately, this is a business decision arising from a change in strategic direction and whilst the department has made it clear it can consider a number of options in terms of support, the reduction in operation remains planned to proceed.’

Mr Johnston explained that despite the decision, the ‘broader engineering sector on the island remains strong’.

‘I am very confident that those individuals who have been affected will find alternatives,’ he said.

There are discussions happening regarding the lease on the building.

‘The hangar is on a lease,’ said the member. ‘There are ongoing discussions on the situation over the lease and really I cannot add any more at this stage.

‘The decision is very much based on the fact that the aircraft that they are servicing are becoming obsolete, and therefore the practice is moving off island.

‘We are where we are.

‘There is an agreement in place, so there will be negotiations going forward to try and resolve the situation.’

Mr Johnston said it was ultimately a ‘business decision’ made by the government.

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