Belfast Telegraph

Airbus loses orders for five A220 aeroplanes

By Ryan McAleer

Airbus has started 2019 with the loss of five orders for A220 planes as a major aerospace industry body warns of a worrying slowdown in UK manufacturing.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

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

The European aerospace giant, which took a majority stake in the part-Belfast made planes last summer, has confirmed the cancellation of five orders for the smaller A220-100 planes. Australian airline Qantas has also pulled orders for eight A380 aircraft.

The value of the cancelled orders has been estimated at around £3bn.

It follows the publication of new data from the Office of National Statistics yesterday, showing a 4.5% decline in the output of UK aircraft manufacturing last year.

It was part of an overall fall of 3.9% in the UK's aerospace sector, only the second year that output has fallen across the industry since the recession.

The ADS Group said that growth in UK aircraft manufacturing had averaged 4.8% per year in the previous seven years.

Despite aerospace manufacturers around the world delivering a record 1,618 aircraft last year, ADS said order books showed limited growth in 2018 when compared to previous years. The industry body said the new production figures point to a declining UK share of the high-value global market.

Airbus finished 2018 with confirmation on two orders for 120 A220 aircraft from two separate US carriers, offering a boost to Bombardier’s Belfast plant, where the composite wings are made.

Last month the European manufacturer broke ground on a major new A220 assembly facility in Alabama.

But it has started 2019 with a deficit in orders after Quantas pulled orders for eight A380 jets. Although Airbus has not identified the operator which cancelled the five A220-100 planes, it’s understood to be Swiss-based business charter carrier PrivatAir, which filed for insolvency at the end of last year.

PrivatAir’s order, which dates back to 2012, was for what was then called the Bombardier CS100.

The cancellation leaves Airbus with 83 A220-100s on its order book, alongside 449 orders for the large A220-300. None of the 39 aircraft delivered by Airbus last month were from the A220 family.

Meanwhile, the man heading Bombardier’s aerospace operations has been given a new senior role within the company.

Danny Di Perna, who was appointed president of Bombardier aerostructures and engineering services (BAES) in November, will now head the group’s troubled train division, Bombardier Transportation.

The shake-up has been prompted by the resignation of Laurent Troger. It comes just three months after Mr Di Perna (53) replaced Michael Ryan as president of BAES. Mr Ryan, who was given title of chief operating officer, remains Bombardier’s most senior figure in Northern Ireland.

Paul Sislian is the new president of BAES. The Bombardier veteran has been with the Canadian company for more than 20 years, most recently serving as chief operating officer for Bombardier Business Aircraft.

“Paul is a dynamic and experienced leader who is ideally qualified to assume this new leadership role,” said Alain Bellemare, president and chief executive officer of Bombardier Inc.

Belfast Telegraph