Dungannon firm Mallaghan Engineering to create 60 new jobs after agreeing Ryanair bus deal
Northern Ireland has a new bus builder as Mallaghan Engineering branches out into airport buses.
The Co Tyrone firm has said it is creating 60 new jobs after winning a multimillion-pound deal to build buses for airline Ryanair.
Mallaghan in Dungannon has developed the Mallaghan 50W, the "roomiest airport bus in the world", with space for 125 passengers.
The deal could bring opportunities for workers such as coach builders made redundant after the collapse into administration last month of Wrightbus in Ballymena.
Ryanair has initially ordered a 32-strong fleet, which will be delivered in the next 12 months, with the first vehicle handed over at the Inter Airport Europe trade show in Munich.
Mallaghan Engineering is one of the world's leading manufacturers of airport ground support equipment.
It employs more than 450 staff at its manufacturing sites in Dungannon and Georgia, in Atlanta in the US, and five other global offices.
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The Mallaghan family was formerly part-owners of Carton House in Co Meath.
Ronan Mallaghan, managing director at Mallaghan Engineering, said: "Traditionally our product portfolio has focused on passenger stairs and a range of high lift trucks for catering, cabin cleaning and more specialist ground support equipment, including water trucks, toilet trucks and de-icers.
"But with increasing passenger numbers in the global market and to meet demand, we've developed and begun manufacturing the Mallaghan 50W airport bus, which broadens our range and heralds a new dawn for the Mallaghan team.
"We are currently recruiting for a range of roles, including skilled mechanics, coach builders, fitters, welders, joiners, spray painters and vehicle upholsters."
Mr Mallaghan said the launch of the airport bus followed a major investment last year and research and design carried out by staff in Dungannon.
He added: "We expect to announce further investment in the weeks ahead, not only in research and development but our facilities and our people, enabling us to expand our innovative product range and to significantly boost export sales."
Ryanair already uses Mallaghan ground support equipment at bases across Europe.
Its director of operations Adrian Dunne said: "Ryanair is delighted to be the launch customer for the new Mallaghan bus. We have worked closely with in the design, specification and delivery of (the bus).
"As we expand the Ryanair Group operations, we expect this to be the first of many orders and look forward to working with Mallaghan, one of our key suppliers of ground equipment."
In its most recent accounts Mallaghan Engineering reported pre-tax profits of £3.1m, compared to £3.2m the year before, and turnover of £50m for 2018, up from £46.4m.
A strategic report with the accounts said: "While market conditions remain challenging, the directors anticipate that the group will remain profitable in the next financial period."