Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier boss confident of boosting sales for plane part-made in Belfast

The Q400 aircraft has proven popular with airlines around the world
The Q400 aircraft has proven popular with airlines around the world

By John Mulgrew

Sales of Bombardier's Q400 passenger planes could be even better than last year, one senior executive has said.

The small turboprop used by airlines such as Flybe is part-made in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier commercial aircraft sales head Colin Bole told Reuters at the Singapore Airshow the company was confident of surpassing the 41 firm orders landed in 2017.

"Last year was a very successful year for the Q400," he explained.

"I expect a similar year or even better one this year. We are building that market share."

The team in Belfast designs and manufactures the wing-mounted flight components for the Q400.

Bombardier won a major order worth £1.3bn for up to 50 of the planes from budget Indian carrier SpiceJet last summer.

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Mr Bole also explained that as Bombardier aimed to complete its tie-up with Airbus, sales of its C Series plane - also part-made in Belfast - had been affected.

Bombardier agreed the deal last year to complete construction of the C Series jets at the French firm's plant in Alabama in an attempt to get round a 292% tariff imposed by the US Department of Commerce following a complaint by Boeing.

Its American rival had claimed the C Series was being unfairly subsidised, allowing them to be sold at below cost in the US.

Had the tariff stood, it could have affected thousands of jobs in Belfast.

However, at the end of last month the US International Trade Commission overturned the initial decision and ruled in favour of Bombardier.

Mr Bole added: "I won't deny it (the tie-up) does create probably a bit of a pause in the meantime.

"Most airlines at least are trying to understand what this means in the long run."

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said it was "full steam ahead" with Bombardier over the C Series deal following the "hands down" legal win in the US.

And speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last week, Northern Ireland industrialist and Airbus board member Sir John Parker (left) said Bombardier's victory against Boeing was "positive news" for the firm's Belfast workforce.

Bombardier is hoping to deliver 40 C Series jets this year as the firm bids to grow global revenue to $17.5bn (£13bn).

It also predicts its commercial aircraft business will be in profit by 2020.

Belfast Telegraph