A MULTI-million pound deal has been signed by Portadown-based Thompson Aero Seats to provide the latest in lie-flat aircraft seats for Aer Lingus.
The deal, worth around €10m (£8.2m) over an initial three-year period, was confirmed by the Irish flag carrier's chief executive Christoph Mueller in Dublin last month but details have only just been confirmed by the Armagh company. Thompson Aero Seat chief executive Gary Montgomery confirmed the deal, but added: "We have similar deals yet to be announced.
He added: "We continue to work on product development within the Portadown facility to enhance our product offering."
Aer Lingus said it would not be commenting on the deal until later this week.
Thompson Aero Seats designs and manufacturers luxury aviation seating and will be providing Aer Lingus with patented technology Thompson Vantage XL lie-flat seats. The extra-comfortable seats will be installed in Aer Lingus's fleet to service passengers on board its transatlantic routes.
Thompson seats are understood to be destined for Aer Lingus's recently launched Dublin to San Francisco route.
The US west coast city is the Irish airline's longest route and it is expected further routes will be fitted with the Vantage XL at a later date. Thompson seats was founded by James Thompson in Kilkeel in 2001 following a long-haul flight which left him struggling to catch some shut-eye against an aircraft window.
The discomfort he felt was a serendipitous event which spawned a business from which he just retired in March, now holding a consultancy role. Founded in Kilkeel to serve just one customer, the growth of the firm to some 170 employees led to a 25,000 sq ft factory in Seagoe Industrial in Portadown in June 2011.
Today's 14 customers include Delta Air Lines, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines, American Airlines, Jet Blue, Air Canada, Air Astana and Qantas.