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'Very good day for Belfast' as Bombardier's stake in A220 jet bought by Airbus


Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 craft in flight

Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 craft in flight

Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 craft in flight

The sale of Bombardier's remaining stake in the Airbus A220 passenger jet programme, the wings of which are made in Belfast, has been hailed as a "very good day" for the city.

In 2018 Bombardier sold a majority stake in its C Series narrow-bodied jet programme to Airbus, with Bombardier itself still retaining an interest. The C Series was then renamed the A220.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Airbus acquired Bombardier's remaining interest for $591m (£453m), raising its stake from 51% to 75%. The remaining 25% is held by the government of Quebec, where Bombardier is based.

Almost 700 orders have been made for the jet, with the latest an order of 50 for Green Africa Airways, Nigeria's Lagos-based airline, being announced shortly after the acquisition.

Bombardier sold its Belfast operation to US company Spirit AeroSystems last year and a spokesperson for the firm said the "Airbus A220 programme's new ownership structure has no impact on our Belfast site's wing manufacture and assembly for this aircraft".

East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson said that it was a "very good day for the A220 programme and more widely for the plant in Belfast".

"The vote of confidence by Airbus in taking their initial stake in the A220 has been rewarded and even today we see further orders as they take sole control of the programme," he said.

"The linkages between Spirit AeroSystems and Airbus present further potential opportunities for the Belfast plant.

"Some of these have already been pointed to by industry experts and key to that is the expertise within the Belfast operation and the possibilities for further growth here.

"I will continue to offer any support that I can to assist the company and help ensure the kind of positive and settled future everyone wants to see for the Belfast plant."

Guillaume Faury, Airbus chief executive, said the agreement with Bombardier and Quebec's government "demonstrates our support and commitment to the A220 and Airbus in Canada".

"Furthermore it extends our trustful partnership with the Government of Quebec," he added.

"This is good news for our customers and employees as well as for the Quebec and Canadian aerospace industry.

"I would like to sincerely thank Bombardier for the strong collaboration during our partnership.

"We are committed to this fantastic aircraft programme and we are aligned with the government of Quebec in our ambition to bring long-term visibility to the Quebec and Canadian aerospace industry."

Bombardier said the sale helped to address its capital restructuring and exit from commercial aerospace production.

The firm invested more than £4.5bn in the A220's development before ceding control of the programme to Airbus in 2018 as it struggled to sell the single-aisle plane.

But the process of launching the C Series was beset by problems and delays, leading to the decision to sell the programme to Airbus.

Bombardier was at the centre of a major trading dispute with Boeing which led to the US government threatening to impose duties of almost 300%

Boeing argued state intervention meant it had an unfair advantage in the market place, but Bombardier won the case.

At the end of January 2020, 107 A220 aircraft were flying with seven customers on four continents. In 2019 alone Airbus delivered 48 A220s, with the further ramp-up to be continued.

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