Bombardier's C Series 'still facing 300% levy despite Airbus deal'
Boeing has claimed Bombardier's C Series planes could still be hit with a 300% import tariff in the US despite a deal that will see the passenger jets assembled in Alabama.
Airbus is taking a majority stake in the Canadian company's C Series aircraft, which are part-made in Belfast.
Thousands of Northern Ireland jobs looked to be at risk after a complaint from rival Boeing resulted in the US administration imposing a provisional tariff on each of the aircraft sold there, potentially scuppering a multi-billion pound deal with Delta Air Lines for up to 125 jets.
Airbus now plans to extend its own US factory in an apparent bid to get around the charge.
However, Boeing general counsel Michael Luttig said: "Any duties finally levied against the C Series... will have to be paid on any imported C Series airplane or part, or it will not be permitted into the country."
Delta Air Lines has confirmed it plans to accept C Series planes built at the Airbus facility in Alabama.
According to Martin Craigs, the former marketing man for Short Brothers - which was taken over by Bombardier in 1989 - Airbus's taking of a stake in the C Series is a "masterful move which shifts the tectonic plates in the massive global market for single aisle airliners".
Bombardier was slapped with a 300% duty by the US Government after complaints from Boeing that the firm was being subsidised and was selling its C Series planes at a reduced price or below cost.
Boeing also claimed it was damaged as a result of Bombardier securing an order for up to 125 of the models.
The concern for Bombardier and more than 4,000 workers here is that the tariff could kill the Delta Air Lines deal, as well as any further business in America.
An initial 220% tariff was imposed on sales of the C Series by the US Department of Commerce.
A later ruling increased the levy to 300%.
The US's International Trade Commission is due to give its final ruling on the matter in February.
The latest twist came as DUP MEP Diane Dodds met with Airbus managers, including senior vice president Katherine Bennett and EU affairs manager Georgina Browes, in Brussels yesterday.
"I was delighted to meet with senior management from Airbus," Mrs Dodds said.
"We had a very positive discussion on the new joint venture with Bombardier in the C Series programme. Airbus's intervention is a vote of confidence in the long-term potential of the C Series.
"A successful C Series will be good for Airbus, good for Bombardier, and in turn good for the local workforce in Belfast.
"Airbus has clearly recognised the C Series as an important addition to its portfolio in a growing sector of the market."
She added that while the new venture was "not taken forward specifically because of the dispute with Boeing, we continue to hope that a sensible resolution (to the tariffs row) can be found".