Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier upbeat after signing new Qantas deal

By Margaret Canning

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace has said it is "cautiously optimistic" for the future of the commercial and business aircraft markets as it unveiled a new deal with Australian airline Qantas Airways.

The Canadian-owned giant, which employs 5,000 people in Belfast, said there were positive signs for the global industry after business and commercial aircraft demand diminished during the recession.

It said recovery would be driven by new market opportunities in China, India and other emerging markets, leaving Bombardier "confident" about the future.

In a 20-year forecast for business aircraft, Bombardier predicted a return to growth, with business jet manufacturers delivering 26,000 business jets worth $661bn.

And a 20-year prognosis of the global commercial aircraft market predicts a rise in demand for 20 to 149-seat commercial aircraft to 12,800 new aircraft orders worth $612bn. Markets outside North America and Europe are expected to rise, with China's fleet of commercial craft expected to become the third biggest.

At Farnborough International Airshow yesterday, Bombardier revealed Australian flag-carrier Qantas Airways placed a firm order for seven of its Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners, in a contract worth around $218m. The aircraft will be operated by Qantas' regional airline, QantasLink.

This order will increase to 28 the number of Q400 and Q400 NextGen airliners operated by QantasLink. The airline also operates two Bombardier Dash 8-200, three Q200 and 16 Q300 aircraft.

Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said the Q400 aircraft had become the flagship of QantasLink's regional fleet. "Qantas has invested over A$600m in 21 Bombardier Q400 aircraft over the last four years," he said. "The aircraft really suits QantasLink's operations and is extremely popular with the airlines customers."

Earlier this week Bombardier confirmed other orders worth $580m with Qatar Airways, VistaJet in Switzerland and anonymous Russian customers.

Meanwhile, Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey visited the airshow, where he met representatives of Northern Ireland companies at an Invest NI stand.

"Farnborough is the aeronautical business' big show and having local companies represented here is vital to positioning them on the global aeronautical scene."

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