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Squeezed margins on plane parts clips profits at Bombardier

By Claire Weir

CANADIAN transport giant Bombardier Inc – which makes plane parts in Northern Ireland – has reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue as it earned less from the sale of its aircraft.

Bombardier Aerospace's revenues fell 9% to $2.1bn (£1.24bn) for the three-month period ended March 31, 2014, compared to $2.3bn (£1.36bn) for the same period last year.

The company delivered a total of 56 aircraft in the quarter, compared to 53 a year earlier, and received 91 net orders, compared to 28 for the same period in 2013.

Bombardier said it was making progress with the new CSeries aircraft – the wings of which were invented, designed and are being built in Belfast – with the fourth flight test vehicle expected to complete its first flight in the coming weeks. Bombardier Aerospace's backlog totalled $38.5bn (£22.8bn), higher than the $37.3bn (£22bn) at the end of December. In commercial aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace received a total of 17 firm orders for Q400 NextGen turboprops from six customers, from north America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

It also signed a firm order with Al Qahtani Aviation Company from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 16 CS300 aircraft, valued at $1.2bn (£0.71bn), with options for an additional 10.

The group has signed firm orders and other agreements for a total of 447 CSeries aircraft with 18 customers and operators in 15 countries, including 203 firm orders.

In business aircraft, the company signed a firm order with an undisclosed customer for three Global 6000, two Global 7000 and three Global 8000 business jets, for a total value of $537m (£318m).

On April 9, the maiden flight of the first Learjet 85 flight test vehicle – parts of which were also made in Belfast – was successfully completed. Earlier this week, the latest Northern Ireland Economic Outlook from PwC said the Northern Ireland aerospace and defence sector, where 8,000 direct jobs contribute £1bn a year of sales, has been one of the success stories of the economic recovery.

Bombardier is also one of four companies in the province which are amongst the world's top-100 aerospace and defence contractors.

£1.2bn

Value of the deal agreed with Saudi Arabia for the delivery of 16 CSeries jets

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