Bombardier on cloud nine as it strikes £4.7bn deal to sell scores of CSeries jets
Bombardier has signed a deal with Air Canada to sell it up to 75 of its CSeries passenger jets - worth more than £400m to the Belfast workforce.
The aerospace giant landed an order for 45 of its CS300 aircraft - which are part-made in Belfast - along with the option for a further 30.
The entire deal is worth around £4.7bn, based on the aircraft's list price.
The completion of the sale comes four months after Bombardier received a letter of intent to buy the jets.
The agreement follows an order for 75 of its CS100 planes to Delta Airlines, with the potential for a further 50.
Stormont Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the new order would "strengthen Northern Ireland's place as a global leader in aerospace technology". "This latest deal will be very much welcomed by Bombardier and by other local suppliers to the aerospace industry in Northern Ireland," he added.
Bombardier boss Alain Bellemare welcomed the deal and said Air Canada was "an innovative operator that was admired for successfully reinventing itself and, like Bombardier, was based in Quebec".
"This order is a major statement of support for Canada's aerospace industry and will help support thousands of CSeries related jobs," he explained.
"It also serves as an important catalyst for renewed interest and subsequent orders."
Calin Rovinescu, chief executive of Air Canada, said "finalising the CS300 order is a key element to Air Canada's strategy to build one of the world's youngest and most fuel efficient fleets".
He added that "following a rigorous evaluation of its capabilities" he was confident the aircraft's "superior range, economics and seating capacity" would help "contribute significantly to our development".
The delivery of the aircraft is expected to begin in late 2019 and extend to 2022.
Just last week, Bombardier secured a long-awaited $1bn bailout from the Quebec regional government to help boost its CSeries project.
One aerospace expert said this summer was the Canadian company's "time to shine" and secure further orders for the aircraft.
The regional government in Quebec, where Bombardier is based, ploughed the money into the CSeries programme in return for a 49.5% equity share in the project.
Speaking about the Brexit referendum, the company, which employs nearly 5,000 people in Northern Ireland, said: "It is too early to speculate on the potential outcomes/impacts of the UK now having voted to leave the European Union."
Bombardier revealed in February that it was cutting 1,080 staff here over the next two years.
An aviation expert warned that leaving the European Union would lead to "great uncertainty for Belfast workers and their actual and potential customers in Europe".
The plane-maker could be hit, as with many other firms, by currency fluctuations and the weak value of the pound.
Earlier this month, Belfast City Airport boss Brian Ambrose said the CSeries passenger jets could open up a direct route from the city to the east coast of America and the Middle East.
Bombardier has also just received certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency, that its CS100 model meets safety requirements. That certification is needed before the newly developed aircraft can enter operation.
The CSeries planes are scheduled to have their first commercial flight next month.
The number of planes Air Canada has agreed to purchase, with an option for a further 30. Delta Airlines has also signed up to buy 75 jets, with an option for another 50