Bombardier Belfast boost after $5.6bn CSeries order
BOMBARDIER'S Belfast workforce has been given a major shot in the arm with an order for up to 125 new CSeries aircraft.
The order from Delta Air Lines, the largest yet for the new lines of planes, will be worth at least $5.6 billion (£3.8bn) based on a firm commitment to buy 75 of the aircraft.
And the deal with provide some relief for staff in Belfast, where wings and other parts of the new planes are made.
The Montreal-headquartered firm had announced plans to make around 1,000 people jobless in Belfast due in part to a lack of orders for CSeries planes.
The company's Belfast boss Michael Ryan said he was "delighted that another customer has placed such a significant order for the CSeries aircraft".
"This is a further endorsement of the aircraft’s excellent operating economics and environmental credentials, to which we in Belfast are contributing with the production of the advanced composite wings," he said.
“We believe the unique, patented process we’ve developed represents a step change in aircraft wing technology, and is strengthening the UK's strategic goal of being the world leader in aircraft wing design and manufacture.”
The new order will raise questions over the scale of planned cuts at Bombardier.
The Unite trade union said it hoped Bombardier would now drawback from its proposal to lay 500 staff off in 2017.
Its regional coordinating officer Davy Thompson said: "The last few months have been very challenging for the workforce with a series of lay-off announcements affecting both agency and core workforces, as well as unprecedented changes to the company’s long-standing apprentice employment scheme.
“While the company’s difficulties are not exclusively caused by the overrun in development costs and delay in orders for the CSeries, the scale of this project is so great that the company’s future is dependent on its success in securing large-scale orders.
“We hope that today’s good news will be followed up by further orders from other airlines. The CSeries has a huge advantage in terms of fuel efficiency and this contract offers encouragement that other airlines will follow suit."
The CSeries has faced a number of setbacks with delays in getting the planes off the ground and orders being placed slower than expected.
The firm said the programme to enter into service "with a backlog of more than 300 aircraft or up to 800 aircraft including all options and commitments".
The Delta order was announced as Bombardier revealed financial results for the first quarter of the year.
Revenues were $3.9bn (£2.7bn), down from $4.4bn (£3bn) a year earlier.
DUP MP Gavin Robinson said the order "must be used as a platform for further growth and I will continue to do all possible to support the company in those endeavours".