Belfast Telegraph

Airbus choosing Belfast as a partner is an example for others

By Martin J. Craigs

I see this week's news as a blue sky opportunity for Northern Ireland in many respects. This is delightful news to blow across the screens which so often carry bad tidings and negative analysis.

This masterful move shifts the tectonic plates in the massive global market for single aisle airliners.

Airbus has recognised Belfast's aviation heritage, leading edge facilities and most importantly the talent and ambition of a workforce with inbuilt conflict resolution skills.

As with all enterprises in the global economy, remorseless progress in productivity will still be required to not just secure 4,000-plus jobs on and around Queen's Island for 20 or more years, but generate more high-skilled jobs and nourish the vital supply chain.

The big shift putting the C Series under the wing of Airbus from a marketing, product support and financing viewpoint will bolster sales for the aircraft.

I have yet to hear external applause for Alastair Hamilton and his team at Invest NI on their investment in leading edge facilities at Queen's Island. They merit recognition for their steadfast focus on helping to equip Queen's Island with the best wing production technology in the world.

Their investment and foresight is now going to pay off big time.

There is serendipity in the timing of this news. Belfast millennials this month won the right to host the World Economic Forum's 'Shape Europe' conference. Next month the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 will be announced. Belfast also this month hopes to get into the play-offs for the European City of Culture 2023.

The inspiration of these wins will help retain young talent and drive up opportunity for all.

As I have previously stated the Brexit process can be fine-tuned to be uniquely beneficial to Northern Ireland. Having Europe's most strategically important company effectively select Belfast as a key industrial partner is a great example for others. Finally, my hat is off to Michael Ryan and former Short Brother colleagues for climbing through the turbulence. The sun it seems, still shines on the righteous and their uplifting wings.

Time for glass half-full stakeholders and commentators to raise a toast to overcoming adversity.

Martin Craigs is chairman of Aerospace Forum Asia and a past Shorts/Bombardier worker

Belfast Telegraph

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