| 17.3°C Belfast

Bombardier deal a boost for us all

At a time of economic gloom there could hardly be better news than the announcement by plane makers Bombardier Aerospace of the largest order in its history.

The deal, which could be worth up £4.5bn, will preserve more than 400 jobs at the firm's plants in Belfast and Newtownabbey, a welcome development after what has been a volatile time for the industry. These are well paid manufacturing jobs, just what the local economy needs.

The order for an initial 100 aircraft, with options for a further 175, is one of the biggest ever given to a private aerospace company and is testament to the design and manufacturing skills of Canadian-based Bombardier.

Those skills are shared on this side of the Atlantic at its local plants and there has been significant investment in research and development and advanced composites facilities which ensures that Northern Ireland can play an important role in the highly technical aerospace, defence and security industries.

Bombardier has been a long time supporter of Northern Ireland through its plants here and everyone who helped to seal this deal deserves great credit.

Not all overseas investors who have set up shop here in the past have shown the same loyalty or the same dedication to building up skills within their chosen sector to ensure sustainability.

This is the type of company, both in stature and ethos, which the province needs to attract.

Of course there will be a wider impact from yesterday's announcement. It shows that Northern Ireland can play its part in a high-value high-skills industry and that will be a valuable marketing tool for local agencies trying to attract more such companies to the province.

Bombardier is a global brand and to be associated with it can only be beneficial.

This deal is another boost to the image of the province and should be exploited as the search for additional jobs continues.