Boost for Belfast workers after US orders for 120 A220 jets confirmed
Airbus has confirmed two major orders for 120 of its A220 aircraft, the wings for which are made in Belfast.
US airline JetBlue and a new low cost carrier in the States launched by JetBlue's founder David Neeleman have each signed off on 60 A220-300 planes, which are designed for the 130-160 seat market.
The orders were originally announced in July, shortly after Airbus finalised its purchase of a majority stake in what was previously known as Bombardier's C Series. The Canadian aerospace firm continues to own 34% of the A220, manufacturing the wings here.
The orders, officially signed off in late December, are worth as much as £4bn.
Airbus said yesterday that all 120 planes will be assembled at its new US facility in Mobile, Alabama, the construction of which will begin later this month.
JetBlue's was the first major order of the Airbus era. It already operates 278 of the French firm's larger planes.
Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer at Airbus, said the contract was a major endorsement of the A220.
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"JetBlue has proven there is no contradiction between economic efficiency and a high quality product," he said.
The other order from the new carrier follows a memorandum of understanding signed at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show.
The deal was hatched by Airbus and Brazilian-American entrepreneur Neeleman.
Mr Neeleman also founded Azul Brazilian Airlines, and is the controlling investor in TAP Air Portugal.
His new, as yet unnamed airline, is currently working under the code name 'Moxy'. "The A220-300 is the right airplane for a new airline that will be focused on passenger service and satisfaction," he said.
"With a low cost of operation and spacious cabin, the A220 will allow us to provide passengers with lower fares and a high quality, comfortable flying experience.
"The A220's ability to operate profitably in thin, underserved markets across a broad spectrum of ranges is unique."
Airbus has said its A220 order book is now at 500 aircraft.
Last month Air Tanzania became the first African carrier to take delivery of the A220.