Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier poised to announce more orders for C-Series

Latest contracts good news for firm's 4,000-strong NI workforce

By Margaret Canning

Aerospace giant Bombardier, which employs around 4,000 people in Belfast, has been tipped to make major order announcements at a top industry event next month.

And the head of a leading manufacturing group has said he expects a positive showing for the Northern Ireland aerospace industry at the Farnborough Airshow, which takes place from July 16-18.

The pre-show optimism has helped to lift the industry gloom after pan-European giant Airbus last week threatened to withdraw UK investment in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A key US deal is expected from Farnborough for the C Series narrow-bodied jet, the wings of which are made in Belfast by a workforce of around 1,000.

The company has sold a majority stake in the C Series to Airbus, with a second assembly line planned for jets in the US. Their partnership deal is to close on Sunday.

Airbus has said it will spend around $300m on a new C Series assembly line in its existing plant in Mobile, Alabama.

It was originally planned to circumvent potential tariffs of nearly 300% imposed by US authorities.

Delta Air Lines has already announced it will buy 75 of the passenger jets.

But Craig West, editor of trade publication Airliner World, said Bombardier Airbus is likely to have another big US deal up its sleeve for Farnborough.

"Airbus will want to publicise another big US deal at Farnborough after spending $300m in Alabama," he said.

He added one possibility for a new order at the show was Central American airline Aeromexico - which is also part-owned by Delta.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "It's difficult to predict whether orders will be confirmed at Farnborough because it can be challenging to get customers to coordinate their purchasing decisions and arrangements with the timing of an airshow."

She said a range of Bombardier commercial and business aircraft will be on display at Farnborough, an eagerly-anticipated event for the aerospace and airline industry.

And Michael Ryan, the Belfast-based president for Bombardier's aerostructures and engineering services, will also attend.

Stephen Kelly, the managing director of industry body Manufacturing NI, said he expected the Northern Ireland aerospace industry as a whole to have a good story to tell at Farnborough.

"There could be good news on the horizon - and what we don't need now is to mess it up with a bad Brexit," he said.

He said he had not been surprised by last week's intervention over Brexit from Airbus.

It was followed by a warning from BMW that it needed clarity before the end of the summer.

But he said conditions were good for aerospace.

"For the first time in generations, the three big economic powerhouses of the US, Europe and the Far East are all growing at same time," he added.

"There is global growth in the economy and that's reflected in trends like people moving for around the world for doing business.

"There are buying signals from the airlines in this world and they are looking for a craft like the C Series that's quicker, faster, lighter, more fuel-efficient than its rivals."

Belfast Telegraph

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