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Harland & Wolff announces contract for nearly £10m

Good news for aerospace firms also emerged on day of H&W London barges contract


The Harland and Wolff cranes in east Belfast

The Harland and Wolff cranes in east Belfast

The Harland and Wolff cranes in east Belfast

Shipyard Harland & Wolff in Belfast has won a contract of nearly £10m to build barges for a London customer.

The announcement came as two aerospace firms which suffered heavy losses following the pandemic also announced good news.

Harland & Wolff will fabricate 12 barges in its second contract with Riverside Energy Park, which is part of the Cory Group of businesses.

H&W last month announced it had won a deal to fabricate 11 barges for Cory Group. The latest contract means it will fabricate 23 in total.

The barges will be used to transport waste on the River Thames, and is subject to Cory finalising its finances for the Riverside 2 development, which will include a new energy from waste (EFW) facility. The fabrication will take place at H&W in east Belfast.

The £9.6m deal is the latest coup for H&W, which last week announced a £55m contract to regenerate a former Royal Navy mine-hunting vessel. Work on that vessel will be carried out by H&W at its Devon shipyard, Appledore.

H&W said it expected to receive payment for its work on the barges next year, boosting projected revenues for the year at £40m.

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The contract wins follow InfraStrata plc’s dramatic rescue of H&W from administration three years ago. Infrastrata was subsequently renamed H&W.

Group chief executive John Wood said: “We are pleased that Cory has once again chosen Harland & Wolff to fabricate these new barges. Fabrication facilities require a constant stream of work in order to create economies of scale and derive operational efficiencies.

"We have set up a semi-automated production line for the first Cory contract and with the award of the second contract, we will be able to drive through further efficiencies in the fabrication process.”

DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson welcomed the contract, saying: “This is another step forward for the Harland and Wolff plant. Cory have agreed a further contract worth £9.5m with H&W Belfast.

"Work is due to commence on the initial contract signed in June 2022, which will oversee the fabrication of 23 barges which will be used to transport recyclable and non-recyclable waste on the River Thames.

“It follows on from the recent award of a £55m defence contract to regenerate an ex-Navy mine-hunter and the recent cruise liner contract from Cunard & P&O.

"This is a sign of confidence in the H&W's ability to fulfil these contracts and is continued positive news for the Belfast-based workforce.”

There was more good news for another east Belfast manufacturer, Spirit AeroSystems, airline Delta Air Lines confirmed an order for A220 aircraft, the wings of which are made in Belfast. Around 3,000 people are employed at Spirit in Belfast, a US company which took the business over from Bombardier.

The US carrier has firmed up orders for 12 A220-300 aircraft, bringing Delta’s total firm order for A220s to 107 aircraft - 45 A220-100s and 62 A220-300s.

Mahendra Nair of Delta said: “The A220-300 is economical, efficient and delivers superior performance.

"These additional aircraft in the A220 family are an excellent investment for our customers and employees and will be fundamental as we work toward a more sustainable future for air travel.”

Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International, said the order demonstrated how happy Delta was with the A220.

"On top of that, the versatility of this aircraft with the long range and short airfield performance makes it a real winner for our customers.”

Portadown aeroplane seat company Thompson Aero Seating has marked the successful launch of its new business class VantageXL Suite seat as part of the interior of Virgin Atlantic’s new A330-900 aircraft.

The seat is described as a “generous personal living space” which gave passengers “the ultimate in comfort and privacy, with fully enclosed suite doors and a privacy divider”.

Thompson Aero Seating had been badly hit by the downturn in aviation which resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year it announced it would be making 180 redundancies, which followed the loss of up to 500 jobs in 2020.

Both Spirit AeroSystems and Thompson Aero suffered significant financial losses following the pandemic. Thompson Aero was hit with a £57m loss while Spirit AeroSystems suffered a $0.5bn loss.