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Top 100 profile: Bombardier

Aerospace giant comes in at position nine in the Ulster Business Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies 2020 with A&L Goodbody

Michael Ryan

Regular readers of the magazine and the Top 100 may remember we profiled Bombardier in a recent edition of the annual companies list.

But in the space of 12 months the Bombardier story has had so many twists and turns, and as one of our largest manufacturers, it felt apt to examine the rising and falling fortunes of an industry stalwart facing, once again, some of its most challenging times.

The numbers are still large for the Short Brothers company here – turnover down slightly but still sitting at £668m for the year ending December 2018.

Around this time last year Bombardier’s Northern Ireland business was in the process of being sold to the US firm Spirit AeroSystems. A deal is still to complete.

That was a deal which could help firm up and support the firm’s operations here. It still employs around 3,500 staff in Northern Ireland.

But it was dealt another blow, a few weeks after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with the announcement that around 600 jobs looks set to go here.

The firm said, following a wider global announcement of 2,500 losses across the firm, around 400 “core employee” jobs are now at risk of redundancy

It’s understood the losses include 400 core staff and a further 200 temporary roles are at risk. It cited an anticipated 30% drop in the sale of its jets.

It’s an industry which has been hit by a truly unprecedented slowdown, as world travel is effectively temporarily put on hold.

Bombardier, which is still headed up here by company stalwart Michael Ryan, had around 1,000 working on the former C Series jets, which have been rebranded as the A220, after Airbus took on a majority stake in the series.

The complete wings and fuselage components for the jet are made within the Canadian aerospace giant’s Belfast operation, which is being sold off to US-based Spirit AeroSystems.

The company suffered another blow after a decision by a top customer to cancel a major project.

Aerospace giant Bombardier has said it was “extremely disappointed” at a decision by a top customer to cancel a major project.

Bombardier suffered another setback after the move by Airbus to use a product made by Collins Aerospace. It’s understood Bombardier had regarded the work on the nacelles of the A320neo jet as an important source of revenue in the future. Around 50 people were working on the early stages of the project.

But Ulster Business also revealed in March that plans are still progressing for a major multi-million pound development which could extend its aircraft facility in Belfast by around 60%.

Full plans have now been submitted by the aerospace giant could see its Airport Road West site grow by around 31,000 sq m. The wing production and assembly facility houses Bombardier’s resin-infused composite aircraft wing manufacturing process for the Airbus A220 aircraft programme. The new proposed extension would increase the facility by around 60%.

And while staff number have increased and decreased at the aerospace giant over the last few years, it still remains one of the most important parts of Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector, with a huge local chain also reliant on the business’s long-term success.

Ulster Business