A BUSINESS which employs hundreds of people at Bournemouth Airport has been placed into administration and sold straight away to a different arm of its Chinese owner.

Aim Altitude, which makes interiors for commercial aircraft, had been making a “considerable loss” in recent years.

Some MPs – including former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith – have called on the government to review the involvement of the Chinese state in the business following the sale.

Aim Altitude was bought for £155million in 2016 by AVIC Aerospace International Corporation, which is controlled by the Chinese state.

Last week, administrators from Grant Thornton arranged sale via a pre-pack administration to ACS UK, another division of AVIC.

Aim Altitude had 647 staff as of 2020 and makes “monuments” – the industry term for fixtures such as kitchen units and toilets – for aircraft.

It made a loss of £162.2m in 2020, after a £39.4m loss the year before.

A statement from the company said: “AIM Altitude’s existing programmes have been acquired by AVIC Cabin Systems (UK) Limited (ACS UK). A fast-tracked pre-pack administration process has been undertaken to place certain trade and assets of AIM Altitude with new owners and ACS UK has acquired the front-row monuments business and the legacy bars, social spaces and galley components of AIM Altitude’s business.

“All existing employees have been transferred to ACS UK under the same terms and conditions as before and ACS UK will continue to meet the delivery schedules for identified programmes.

“With a full orderbook, it was important to ensure that programmes would continue and under ACS UK it will be business as usual with a continued focus on service, quality and delivery.

“The forward plan is for the business to focus on front-row monument design and manufacture, together with supporting the range of installed service products.

“This process has been undertaken with full cooperation of employee representatives and in consultation with customers and stakeholders. With production continuing as before it is hoped that most customers and suppliers will see little impact from the change of ownership. This also minimises the impact on the original equipment manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus.”

A spokesperson for ACS UK said: “We are working hard to ensure as smooth a transition from AIM Altitude to ACS UK as possible. AIM Altitude was making a considerable loss over recent years and was simply unsustainable in its existing form. By undergoing an accelerated acquisition process, ACS UK is pleased to have secured jobs for existing employees across several sites and countries.”

Sir Iain Duncan Smith called on the government to “get off its backside” and call in the decision to sell the business.

“The short-sighted sales of critical manufacturing infrastructure will leave us completely dependent on Beijing,” he said.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said: “It should be reviewed now and I don’t understand why it wasn’t reviewed sooner.”

A government spokesperson said: “While commercial transactions remain primarily a matter for the parties involved, the government routinely monitors acquisitions across the economy in case of national security concerns. 

“The business secretary has powers under the National Security and Investment Act to intervene in acquisitions where necessary.”