Belfast Telegraph

Airbus chief hints at Bombardier Belfast purchase

Staff at Bombardier in Belfast
Staff at Bombardier in Belfast
Bombardier in Belfast (Brian Lawless/PA)
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The new chief executive of Airbus has hinted the European aerospace giant could buy Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operation.

Speaking in London, Guillaume Faury, who took over in April, confirmed the Toulouse-based group is looking at the option of an acquisition.

It is two weeks since Bombardier announced its plan to exit the commercial aircraft business and end its 30-year relationship with Northern Ireland.

Its aerostructures operation includes sites next to Belfast City Airport, Newtownabbey, Dunmurry and Newtownards, specialising in aircraft components, including engine nacelles (casings), fuselages and wings.

Crucially for Airbus, it manufactures wings for the A220 aircraft. The European airframer acquired a majority stake in the jet series, formerly Bombardier’s C-series, last summer.

“We will make sure that whatever happens preserves our interest,” Mr Faury told The Guardian during a visit to London.

US aerostructures manufacturer Spirit Aerosystems and Worcestershire-based aerospace components giant GKN have both been named as potential front-runners for the Bombardier business.

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The chief executive said Airbus is open to the prospect of the Northern Ireland aerostructures business being run by another third-party supplier.

“We think wings are very close to our own business. The production could be coming from suppliers if they are reliable and have a long-term perspective. These are the options we will be looking at.”

Airbus already operates its own wing manufacturing facilities for other aircraft in its portfolio at Broughton in north Wales and in Filton, near Bristol.

In November the Canadian firm announced plans to shed 490 jobs, which would leave its workforce here at 3,600, around half of what it was in 2002.

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