Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier boss against any border in Irish Sea following EU withdrawal


By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has hinted that it is against any move to redraw the UK's trading border with the Republic to place it in the Irish Sea as its boss here said regulatory convergence could be one way forward.

Michael Ryan, who heads up Bombardier's workforce of more than 4,000 in Northern Ireland, said bringing in some form of "regulatory convergence... or non-divergence" from the current border relationship might work.

"We're not like Airbus, which wants to be able to move people between France, Germany, Spain and the UK," Mr Ryan told Bloomberg.

"Most of our employees are local to Belfast. We have very few from the mainland and even fewer from the south."

He said the firm's supply chain is mainly from Britain and not through Dublin, and that it already dealt with staff requiring visas to work here.

"Most of them come via the mainland, through the ports of Liverpool and Southampton, whether from UK suppliers, European suppliers or from North America and China," he said.

"A certain constructive ambiguity has allowed us to move on and go to the next step before, and I expect that this will be much the same."

Mr Ryan also said Bombardier will look for "other opportunities" to work with Airbus following a tie-up with the French firm in a bid to avert potentially damaging tariffs on the sale of its C Series planes to the US.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "We continue to align our position on Brexit with that of (industry body) ADS.

"We are following the current negotiations very closely and, as they progress, we will transition our business plans accordingly.

"As always, we are committed to our businesses, employees, customers and suppliers in the UK and Europe.

"We will continue to work with government and other industry stakeholders to maintain the necessary business environment to ensure our success." A number of Northern Ireland firms have already taken action following the vote for Brexit in June last year.

Almac, which is based in Craigavon, told a House of Commons committee in February that it was opening a base in Dundalk as a direct result.

And Caterpillar, which is retaining two sites in Northern Ireland, said a Brexit team "continues to assess potential impacts across all aspects of our business".

Meanwhile, there have been calls from the UK Government to stand up for jobs at Bombardier.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said thousands of posts may be at risk.

"The UK needs to stand up for all those jobs, whether they are Boeing jobs or Bombardier jobs."

He told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: "Because of Airbus as well, the partnership makes it more important that the UK Government becomes more robust with Boeing as a company."

Production of the C Series will be extended to the US state of Alabama, which bosses from Airbus and Bombardier believe will mean it avoids the heavy import tariffs.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said planes built in the US would not be subject to duties under the US investigation.

But US aerospace giant Boeing has said it looked like a questionable deal between two heavily state-subsidised competitors to skirt the recent findings of the US government.

Earlier this year the US Department of Commerce announced it would impose an interim tariff of nearly 220% on the jets, following a complaint from rival Boeing, with unions warning the move could cost jobs in Belfast.

A second preliminary levy of 80% has been loaded on sales of the Bombardier aircraft.

Belfast Telegraph

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