Belfast Telegraph

£1.3bn order for 50 aircraft a huge boost for Bombardier's workforce in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has landed a huge order for 50 planes part-made in Belfast - worth up to £1.3bn.

Budget Indian carrier SpiceJet has signed a letter of intent for up to 50 Q400 turboprop planes from the Canadian-owned giant.

The Belfast team designs and manufactures the wing-mounted flight components for the Q400 turboprop.

Bombardier's president of commercial aircraft, Fred Cromer, said: "We are proud to sign this agreement as it is another demonstration of the Q400's superiority in the turboprop market.

"When finalised, the repeat order will increase the Q400 aircraft fleet in the fast-growing market in the Asia-Pacific region and will launch the high-density 86-passenger model of the Q400 aircraft in India."

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director of SpiceJet, said: "I am delighted that we will be acquiring 50 Q400 planes. SpiceJet operates India's largest regional fleet and is the only organised operator in this space.

"The acquisition will help us further increase connectivity to smaller towns and cities and help realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of ensuring that every Indian can fly."

Since 2010, SpiceJet has taken delivery of 15 of Bombardier's Q400 aircraft.

Aside from the potentially huge deal with SpiceJet, Bombardier also signed a separate letter of intent with South African carrier CemAir, for two of its Q400s.

This week, speaking at the Paris Air Show, Fred Cromer said Bombardier is expecting to announce a further significant C Series deal before the end of the year.

"The reputation of the airplane is starting to build among our industry.

"Internally we see it, because the conversations that we are having are accelerating in all regions around the world."

He said that a new deal was due "soon".

"I would say more activity by the end of this year," he said.

And he added that the company was also ramping up production of the planes to around 120 units by 2020.

Bombardier employs around 4,500 workers across Northern Ireland.

The majority are based in Belfast and, among other work, produce the wings and parts of the fuselage for its C Series passenger planes.

Just last week it emerged Bombardier's long-serving boss in Northern Ireland, Michael Ryan, has been "given a seat at the top table" after being promoted within the company.

Mr Ryan was promoted to a new role as president of aerostructures and engineering services. However, it is understood he will continue working in Belfast and lead the team here.

Meanwhile, staff in Bombardier in Northern Ireland have accepted a 2% increase in wages, after unions balloted members on a pay deal.

It comes after Bombardier slashed more than 1,000 jobs here over the past year as part of global cuts.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "Following negotiations between the company and trade unions, the unions balloted their members on a four-year pay offer tabled by the company.

"We can confirm that that offer has been accepted by the workforce."

At the end of last year, it was revealed Bombardier was moving some of its operations away from Northern Ireland to cheaper countries, including Mexico and Morocco.

The plane-maker confirmed the transfer of "certain activities" in October that it said it was "unable to undertake competitively" here.

Belfast Telegraph