Workers will be axed from Crawley-based British Airways Holidays following a merger with Thomas Cook.

Other jobs will be moved from the firm's West Sussex headquarters toThomas Cook's base in Peter-borough.

BA bosses said it was still too early to say how many jobs would be affected. The redundancies are not expected for another 12 months.

The announcement followed yesterday's news that the two leading tour operators are to merge. Subject to European Commission approval the new company will become fully operational on March 1, 2001.

BA Holidays, which offers upmarket holidays on scheduled airlines, currently employs 480 staff.

Another 350 people work for Thomas Cook Holidays at its headquarters in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

Robin Hayes, head of leisure at British Airways, said: "We have been discussing the merger with Thomas Cook Holidays for several months and subject to European Commission Approval it will be completed by March 1.

"The new company will operate from the two existing sites. There will be some movement of jobs between Crawley and Peterborough and also between Peterborough and Crawley.

"It is also envisaged there will be a reduction in the overall head count as a result of the merger.

"However, until the new management committee is put in place, it is unclear exactly how this will work. We have told staff the redundancies are at least a year away and until then we will continue operating as normal."

Both companies will keep their brand names after the merger.