Belfast Telegraph

Boeing case against Bombardier C Series 'spiteful', claims Paisley

By John Mulgrew

Boeing's challenge to rival company Bombardier over the sale of its part-Belfast made jets is "spiteful", a Westminster committee has heard.

Senior members of Boeing, including Europe president Sir Michael Arthur, faced a grilling from MPs at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

DUP MP Ian Paisley criticised Boeing's claim it was directly competing with the Bombardier C Series planes at the centre of the row - which could see a 300% tariff slapped on US sales - and said it was "spiteful".

The committee heard that there are around 4,400 Boeing 737 aircraft on backlog, the closest product it has to the C Series.

Earlier this year, Boeing took a challenge over the sale of Bombardier's C Series. It claimed the planes were unfairly subsidised by the Canadian government and the firm was "dumping aircraft", by selling them below cost.

"You want to punish Bombardier," Mr Paisley said during the hearing. "You attacked another British employer."

Sir Michael rejected the claim and said: "I don't like to accept the implications of what you are saying, Mr Paisley."

Bombardier employs around 4,000 workers here. Mr Paisley, who is MP for North Antrim, claimed that Boeing was not in a position to compete directly with Bombardier, so it would not have been damaged by the C Series sales to major customers such as Delta.

Sir Michael said that "in any competition, with any cost, it will be about when the planes are delivered".

"There are two elements, the subsidy ... and then the dumping, which is also using illegal subsidy," he added.

Committee chairman Andrew Murrison said Boeing could not satisfy demand for its planes. Asked whether Boeing had had discussions with US President Trump before taking a decision to challenge Bombardier, Sir Michael said "I doubt it" but he "couldn't be definitive".

"My worry is Boeing is being used a scapegoat in the reduction in Northern Ireland jobs, which we all regret," he added.

Independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon asked Boeing if it "cares about the potential loss of Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland?"

"We care about job losses anywhere in the UK," Sir Michael replied.

Boeing pointed toward Bombardier's own 2014 marketing material, which it said showed the airline was pitching its own C Series plane against Boeing aircraft. But that was dismissed by Mr Paisley as "marketing guff".

DUP MP for Strangford Jim Shannon said Boeing's "attitude to Bombardier has been disgraceful".

Sir Michael said the decision to take the case "was a pure commercial challenge for a sale that we felt was unfair".

Belfast Telegraph

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