Belfast Telegraph

Executive willing to meet Bombardier bosses over troubled CSeries project

By Margaret Canning

The Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has said it would be willing to meet senior management at Bombardier to discuss the troubled CSeries programme.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland's biggest manufacturer with a workforce of 5,500.

The Canadian firm is undertaking to build the wings of the single-aisle CSeries jet in Belfast is Northern Ireland's biggest inward investment project, worth £520m.

But the jets are already three years overdue and more than £1bn over-budget.

Both its CS100 and larger CS300 are due to enter service later this year.

Around 800 Bombardier staff were expected to be engaged on the mammoth programme but it's understood that just a few hundred are engaged on the wings work at this time in Bombardier's purpose-built factory on Queen's Island.

But the knock-on effect of the high cost of the CSeries has increased the pressure on the rest of the company's interests, leading to job losses across the group, including 220 in Belfast.

A spokesman for OFMDFM said: "The Executive remains committed to supporting Bombardier and we recognise their contribution to the economy.

"As a major manufacturer who employ thousands of people here, we would be willing to meet with Bombardier senior management should they request."

Meanwhile, it's been reported in The Times that senior UK Government officials were involved in talks about the troubled CSeries programme due to the company's massive presence and economic contribution here.

Prime Minister David Cameron formally opened the 600,000 sq ft factory in 2013.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London said: "The Government works jointly with the aerospace industry to keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market.

"We therefore have regular dialogue on issues with a large number of aerospace companies including Bombardier Aerospace."

Airbus may yet be in the frame for a rescue of Bombardier's turbulent CSeries operation as a tie-in with its Canadian rival could make strategic sense, according to an aviation expert.

The world's biggest manufacturer of aircraft had walked away from talks with Bombardier over it buying a stake in the CSeries to buoy up the troubled programme.

But sources said there is logic to the deal which could make sense to Airbus with a return to the negotiating table possible.

Craig West, the editor of Airliner World, said Airbus could lend some marketing muscle to the beleaguered CSeries programme as it was in sales and marketing that the programme was floundering.

And he said that tying up with the Cseries could help Airbus.

Its A320 short-haul is very popular with airlines like easyJet but its shorter versions like the A318 and A319 were less popular - so the CSeries 120 to 150-seat range could be an effective bridge between the two, he said.

Belfast Telegraph