Bombardier will weather jobs and losses storm, insists former chief Sir Roy McNulty
The "worst is over" for plane maker Bombardier and it will weather the storm of job cuts and financial losses, its former boss here has claimed.
Sir Roy McNulty, former chief executive, said Bombardier's CSeries passenger jets, part-made in Belfast, were good aircraft and he was confident the Canadian-owned company could turn around its fortunes.
The Gatwick Airport chairman, who was in Belfast yesterday arguing the case for the airport's expansion, said a Brexit would be a "significant setback" for his other interest, veterinary pharmaceutical firm Norbrook, of which he is chairman.
"Bombardier Belfast is taking its share of grief, and it (the CSeries) has been a big and very, very difficult programme," Sir Roy said.
"The delays and the cost overruns have hit everybody, as they have hit Shorts' recent financial results.
"But the underlying strength of the company is still there, both in Belfast and worldwide. I personally believe that the CSeries product is a good one.
"I wouldn't despair, but it is a difficult period. It's going to be a real challenge for the people in Belfast and Bombardier in general to get through this, but I would be confident they will come through. I think, I hope, that the worst is over."
Speaking about Gatwick's plans for a runway expansion, Mr McNulty claimed Northern Ireland could be left short on access to London if the project did not get the go ahead.
Sir Roy said "there won't be the capacity" for Northern Ireland passengers wanting to travel in and out of London if an expansion was not completed within the next 10 years.
He said there were "some serious flaws" in a report from the Airports Commission that instead backed Heathrow's plans for a third runway.
"Gatwick is much more deliverable (than Heathrow)," Sir Roy said. "The need for capacity is probably more urgent today than when Howard Davies did his report because the traffic is growing faster."
Sir Roy said London and the rest of the UK would need an expanded airport as early as 2025. And speaking about Northern Ireland's manufacturing industry, while Sir Roy said he wanted the Government to help grow skills here, he did not believe a generic manufacturing strategy would work, given the huge variety of firms within the sector.
"Governments ought to focus on making sure the skills are available in the local market or there is a training system to develop those skills," he added.
Mr McNulty also claimed a Brexit could mean a "significant setback" for Norbrook.
He said that to have the business "subject to import taxes at the other end is not a good thing at all".