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North Sea helicopter pilots face the chop

A Bristow helicopter takes off from Scatsta airport taking workers to the North Sea oil fields.Scatsta airport in the north mainland of Shetland is set to close. Photo: Shetland News

BRISTOW Helicopters have announced they are likely to make 130 staff in Shetland and Aberdeen redundant as a result of the downturn in the oil industry due to the falling oil price.

The British Airlines Pilots Association (Balpa) has called for an urgent jobs summit after being told that 66 pilots are set to lose their jobs.

Bristow said they had started consulting with the unions, saying it had been forced to act because of the highly competitive market.

A Bristow spokeswoman said they were being hit by oil companies downsizing their activities “due to the ongoing reduction of oil and gas activity in the North Sea”.

She said: “The company has taken numerous measures to reduce costs by working closely with clients to improve operational efficiencies, eliminate discretionary spending, defer capital spend and offer voluntary redundancy.

“However we have not been able to reach the level of cost reduction needed and approximately 130 personnel may be affected by redundancy in the UK.

“Bristow is fully committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety standards are maintained throughout this difficult process.”

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said the news was “devastating” and the union was doing all it could to support pilots affected.

“This announcement reflects the collapse in the oil price and its impact on North Sea industry,” he said.

“Pilots want to see that industry thrive again and ensure when it does, we have the skilled pilots and other workers available.”

McAuslan called on the government to “nurse the industry through this downturn so skills are not lost when the situation improves”.

He called for the government to organise a jobs summit with the UK Treasury, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Scottish government and the Department of Transport.

“This loss of experience is a major threat to the UK industry as well as a personal catastrophe for the individuals concerned,” he said.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021