North Sea helicopter operator CHC is poised to lay off more than 20 employees in Aberdeen amid the crude price slump and Covid-19 pandemic.
The firm opened a consultation process with staff members yesterday, putting 47 UK pilot and engineer roles at risk.
About half of the cuts will be made in the Granite City, while Humberside and Norwich will also be hit.
CHC insisted it would maintain a fleet capable of fulfilling its customers’ needs, but surplus aircraft will be taken out of action.
Regional director Mark Abbey said CHC made the “incredibly difficult decision” to reduce headcount in response to “challenging market conditions”, adding the move would help “safeguard the future of the business” and protect more jobs in the long run.
It is understood North Sea service companies, including helicopter operators, have been put under pressure by customers to lower their prices due to the crude price drop.
Jake Molloy, regional organiser at the RMT trade union, said “commercial pressures” would have an impact on safety and that the supply chain should not be expected to “underwrite the survival of oil and gas companies”.
Mr Molloy said: “You’ve now got a group of workers who are distracted by the threat of redundancy. That is not conducive to producing the highest performance in terms of efficiency and safety.”
CHC’s Mr Abbey insisted safety remained the company’s top priority.
A spokeswoman for pilots’ union Balpa said the potential job losses would be “devastating” for those at risk and acknowledged the North Sea economy was facing “difficult times”.
She said Balpa would continue to press the UK and Scottish governments to support the aviation industry, which is facing an “unprecedented crisis”.
Shauna Wright, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite have been made aware that CHC are looking to make redundancies both in Aberdeen and Humberside. This is another blow to the Oil and Gas industry at this already difficult time for our membership.
“We can confirm that Unite representatives will be involved in all meetings to offer support to our members who are at risk of redundancy and we can assure everyone that the safety of workers and of those who travel will be high on our agenda.”