Eight pilots working in Shetland face losing their jobs, Bristow Helicopters confirmed this week.
The news comes as Bristow, which operates the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service in Sumburgh, as well as the oil and gas service at Scatsta, announced plans to axe 12 jobs across the country. The downturn in the oil and gas industry has been blamed.
Alongside the eight pilots in Shetland a further four jobs are to expected to be cut at the company’s Norwich base. The company employs 275 pilots across the UK.
Mick Brade, national officer for the industry trade union British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), described the losses as a “terrible blow”.
Bristow will seek to avoid compulsory redundancies by exploring options such as part-time working and voluntary redundancy, a company spokesperson said.
A company statement addressing the move said: “Due to our clients’ reduced activity levels in oil and gas, brought about by the ongoing downturn, a reduction of up to 12 pilot positions operating out of our Shetland and Norwich bases is being considered.
“We are in early consultations with Balpa and are keen to mitigate the effect of these reductions – with the hope that we can avoid the need for any redundancies. These options include potential reduced hours and part-time working, as well as voluntary severance.
“We will over the coming weeks meet with all of our team members and continue dialogue with the union, to discuss the options available.”
Mr Brade said: “The UK helicopter community has had to endure round after round of redundancies in the last few years. This latest announcement by Bristow Helicopters of the loss of eight pilots in Shetland and four in Norwich is another terrible blow.”
He added: “Balpa is doing all it can to save as many jobs as possible and to protect the people for whom this is a personal tragedy.
“Balpa representatives have already begun a period of consultation with the company. We have been able to agree to explore options for part-time working that could reduce the need to let people go, and to seek volunteers for redundancy.”