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New order for 20 jets is 'good news' for Bombardier

By John Mulgrew

Published 05/04/2016

Bombardier’s Challenger 350 jet
Bombardier’s Challenger 350 jet

A Bombardier deal for 20 business jets is worth tens of millions to the Belfast economy and a much-needed "shot of confidence" for the company here, it's been claimed.

The Canadian-owned aerospace giant has confirmed an order for 20 of its Challenger 350 jets, valued at around $534m (£374m).

It's understood the sale is the completion of a deal by Texan company Flexjet, which sells shares in private planes.

It made a provisional order for the aircraft, the centre fuselages of which are made in Belfast, back in November.

But Bombardier's workforce suffered a setback in February this year when 1,000 job losses were announced.

Aviation expert Guy Warner said: "Any order of this nature is bound to bring benefits, and that will spread across the company.

"Now, after a difficult time, there's been a bit of good news."

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said the latest big deal for the firm was a much-needed "shot of confidence" for the workforce. "We have always been very confident that the future of Bombardier is secure, and have always been confident because it is a great product.

"So news like this should be a welcome shot of confidence to everyone involved in the project."

David Coleal, president of Bombardier business aircraft, said: "With its outstanding performance and reliability, the class-leading Challenger 350 aircraft dominates the super-midsize segment and continually outperforms - it's simply one of the best business jets in the market."

It's the latest large order for the firm, after it revealed it secured the sale of 75 of its struggling CSeries 300 jets to Air Canada in February.

That deal was worth around $3.8bn (£2.7bn), but news came as the firm revealed it was cutting almost 1,100 jobs in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier currently employs 5,300 staff here, the majority of whom are full-time permanent employees.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year, the aerospace giant's vice-president Michael Ryan said he could not rule out additional job losses in the coming years.

The Canadian-owned aerospace giant is cutting around 7,000 jobs across its operations globally.

Just last year, it was revealed Bombardier's east Belfast operation was trying to cut costs by a fifth over the next two years.

Last year the company received a $1bn (£660m) bailout from the Quebec regional government. The firm has also received more than £70m from Invest NI since 2002.

The production of wings for the CSeries is Northern Ireland's biggest-ever inward investment programme, worth £520m.

Belfast workers have been building the wings of the CSeries jets. But last year it was revealed the workforce here has already produced between 15 and 20 fuselage mid-sections for the CSeries.

It is understood that some work for the middle section of the CS100 and CS300 has moved from Bombardier's Chinese partner Shenyang Aircraft Corporation to Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph

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