AROUND 75 jobs are to be cut at BAE Systems' base in Prestwick, it has emerged.

The defence giant confirmed that it has begun consultations with staff and trade unions with a view to shedding a potential 75 posts at the regional aircraft site in Ayrshire.

The job losses will affect workers in the engineering, support and business support divisions.

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Brian Donohoe, MP for Central Ayrshire, said: "This is a major blow to an industry where it has in the past been a saviour, but to an extent this news today was not unexpected. Work packages within the company have decreased and they can no longer sustain the situation created by the shortfall."

The company is seeking to achieve the reduction through voluntary means. A letter from managing director Alan Fraser to Mr Donohoe said BAE Systems' remaining business "has a broad customer base and a healthy order book for the foreseeable future".

In a statement yesterday, Mr Fraser said cuts were essential due to a shortfall of engineering work.

He added: "We have delayed this announcement for as long as possible while extending every effort to find new work packages that would secure longer term employment for our employees. However, this situation is no longer sustainable.

"We have similarly reviewed staffing levels within our customer support organisation where there is a smaller reduction required to achieve an economically viable business. I appreciate this is difficult news for our people and we are committed to working with employees and their representatives to explore ways of mitigating the potential job losses."