Belfast Telegraph

Blue skies for Bombardier as Quebec delivers $1bn bailout for CSeries

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has finally secured a long-awaited $1bn bailout from the Quebec regional government to help boost its CSeries passenger jets, which are part-made in Belfast.

One aerospace expert said this summer was the Canadian firm's "time to shine" and secure further orders for the aircraft.

The regional government in Quebec, where Bombardier is based, has ploughed $1bn (£670m) into the CSeries programme in return for a 49.5% equity share in the project.

The deal was delayed as discussions dragged on, but it is now understood the first payment will be made on June 30 and the second on September 1.

Talks are still under way for a further cash bailout from Canada's federal government.

Bombardier was left reeling after delays to its CSeries passenger jets, the wings and fuselage of which are built in Belfast.

The plane-maker, which employs around 5,000 staff here, in April secured a deal to sell 75 of its CS100 planes to Delta Airlines, with the potential for a further 50 orders. However, it revealed in February that it planned to cut around 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland over the next two years.

Bombardier said the Quebec deal would see the creation of a limited partnership, the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership.

Its chief executive Alain Bellemare added: "We are delighted to officially welcome the government as an equity partner in the CSeries programme.

"We are grateful for the confidence that the people and the government of Quebec have in the CSeries.

"Their investment will accelerate the momentum that we have created, strengthen customer confidence in the aircraft and provide Bombardier with the financial flexibility needed to compete and win."

The company is in talks with Canada's Liberty Party government - led by Justin Trudeau. Mr Trudeau - whose home province is Quebec, where Bombardier employs at least 18,000 people - has been under pressure to match the regional funding with federal funding since taking office in November.

Former Shorts/Bombardier man and ex-chief executive of Pacific Asia Travel Association, Martin J Craigs, said: "The government support will be welcome, but global aircraft programmes live or die in the marketplace. This summer is the CSeries' time to shine."

Bombardier said it would "maintain operational control of the CSeries program and consolidate its financial results".

Fred Cromer will serve as president in the project, as well as continuing as president of commercial aircraft.

Earlier this year, the Delta deal to buy 75 CS100 jets was said to be worth as much as £400m to Belfast's workforce.

Just last week, Belfast City Airport boss Brian Ambrose said the CSeries passenger jets could open up a direct route from the city to the east coast of America and the Middle East.

The narrow-body passenger planes are fuel-efficient and potentially give small airports greater reach across the world.

Earlier this month, IAG boss Willie Walsh told the Belfast Telegraph he was having discussions with Bombardier boss Alain Bellemere about buying a number of the aircraft.

At the International Air Transport Association AGM in Dublin, he added that the other orders, including deals with Delta Airlines and Lufthansa subsidiary SWISS, were encouraging.

Belfast Telegraph