Belfast Telegraph

£12m Bombardier cash boost 'will help secure Northern Ireland jobs'

By Ryan McAleer and Rebecca Black

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a second multi-pound Government funding package in the space of a week for Bombardier in Belfast, during a one-day visit to Northern Ireland yesterday.

Last week the Government outlined a £15m investment into three research projects at the Belfast plant during the Farnborough Airshow. Yesterday it increased its support to £27m with a second package worth £12m to support Bombardier's development of an engine casing system for Airbus.

The Canadian aerospace manufacturer's Belfast operation was selected in December by Airbus to supply the nacelle programme for its new A320neo aircraft.

Mr Hammond said the funding, assisted by Invest NI, will help secure long-term manufacturing jobs in Belfast.

During a visit to the factory floor, the Chancellor also welcomed the recent orders for 120 Airbus A220 aircraft, the rebranded C Series jets, with the wings being produced by Bombardier in Belfast.

There was uncertainty for the company's workers in Belfast last year after US manufacturing rivals Boeing complained about the firm selling its C Series jets to Delta Airlines below cost price.

The US Department of Commerce recommended a near 300% punitive duty on sales of the jets for five years, putting around 1,000 jobs in Belfast at risk. But the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US ruled against Boeing and in favour of Bombardier in January. Mr Hammond pledged his support for Bombardier.

"We are backing Bombardier with £12m of new money to help develop cutting edge technology - here in Northern Ireland - for modern aircraft," he said.

"This will help to secure jobs for Northern Ireland's economy and cement the UK's role as a leading manufacturer of hi-tech aircraft components."

During Wednesday's visit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer also held an hour-long round-table discussion in Limavady with major Northern Ireland-based businesses.

Hosted by the NI Chamber, the meeting was attended by Seagate, Terex, Dale Farm, Danske Bank, Henry Brothers, Foyle Port, Armstrong Medical and Coca Cola.

All the businesses were given the opportunity to put their concerns directly to Mr Hammond, covering a range of topics including Brexit, the lack of a sitting Executive and key infrastructure projects, such as the North South Interconnector. 

Speaking afterwards, Ellvena Graham, president of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called on Mr Hammond to use the Autumn Budget to prioritise ways of getting businesses investing.

"In these challenging times it is really important that we have a Budget that puts the economy at the centre.

"Government must do everything it can to improve the areas that are in its control, such as skills, training and infrastructure, to increase business confidence. Businesses also require incentives for investment and we urge the Chancellor to consider an increase in investment allowances."

She continued: "Our members also outlined how business costs are reducing margins significantly. For example the Apprenticeship Levy and the cost to SMEs of administrating auto enrolment. Further increases will continue to reduce business confidence."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.