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£400m bonanza for east Belfast as Bombardier sign new jet order

By John Mulgrew

Published 03/05/2016

Delta has signed a deal with Bombardier for 75 CS100 jets
Delta has signed a deal with Bombardier for 75 CS100 jets

Bombardier's largest single order for its new passenger jets could be worth around £400m to the aerospace giant's Belfast workforce, it's been claimed.

The Canadian-owned firm secured a deal to sell 75 of its CS100 jets to Delta Airlines, with the potential for a further 50 orders.

It's a much-needed contract, valued at close to £4bn.

And the deal is worth anywhere between £300m and £400m for Bombardier's Belfast operations, according to Martin J Craigs, former Shorts/Bombardier worker and ex-chief executive of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

Bombardier employs around 5,000 staff here. And it has grown its team working on the C Series. It was originally producing just the wings for both the CS100 and CS300 jets. But it has grown to building the fuselages for the planes.

Mr Craigs said the latest deal would be worth around 10% to 15% of the total contract for Bombardier in Belfast.

But he said that secrecy due to "intense competition from airlines" often means there is no official breakdown in costs.

"Bombardier Belfast will not see all those deal details. They are effectively a sub-contractor who gets allocated a slice of the cake as the head cook sees fit," he said.

But Mr Craigs said the latest deal was "vindication for Bombardier".

"The US airlines are going through what some people have called hyper-consolidation, and are making much higher profits," he said.

"Naturally, for Bombardier, that's a good customer to have. An order from Delta is a strong vindication for Bombardier."

And it comes at a key time for the business, after the company revealed it was cutting 1,080 jobs here over a two-year period.

Bombardier said the deal was a "watershed moment". Belfast boss Michael Ryan said it was "a further endorsement of the aircraft's excellent operating economics and environmental credentials, to which we in Belfast are contributing with the production of the advanced composite wings."

"We believe the unique, patented process we've developed represents a step change in aircraft wing technology, and is strengthening the UK's strategic goal of being the world leader in aircraft wing design and manufacture."

Manufacturing NI chief executive Stephen Kelly said the deal was another "sign of confidence in the company" and highlighted the "ingenuity" of the workers in Northern Ireland.

Last year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the workforce here had made between 15 and 20 fuselage mid-sections for the aircraft after work was transferred from the company's manufacturing partner in China to Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

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