Staff of the British Midland airline at Dublin Airport have been on strike since midnight. Baggage handlers and ticket desk staff voted by a large majority for strike action last night.

The dispute is over a plan by the airline to transfer its ground operations in Dublin to another company, Gatwick Handling International. The employees believe the change will mean a loss of benefits.

Meanwhile, the UK airline today unveiled a new corporate identity. The airline has downgraded the word British in its aircraft livery in a makeover intended to increase its appeal to younger passengers. Its formal title has been changed to bmi British Midland.

But the airline told at a news conference at Heathrow airport this morning that the name used in promotional material and highlighted on fuselages will be bmi.

Managers wanted a more modern identity for the company to enable it to fight back against new scheduled competitors such as EasyJet, Go and Buzz. The move comes as the airline prepares to break out of the European market with the launch of its first scheduled long-haul flights to the US in April.