Boeing claims it is 'scapegoat' for Bombardier job cuts

Senior management of Boeing have said criticism it has received over the ongoing trade dispute is a "smokescreen" to disguise problems at Bombardier
By Michael McHugh, Press Association

AIRCRAFT manufacturer Boeing has said it has become a scapegoat for Bombardier job cuts in Belfast.

Senior management of the firm told MPs at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that criticism it has received over the ongoing trade dispute is a "smokescreen" to disguise its Canadian rival's problems and said that the number employed by Bombardier at manufacturing plants in Northern Ireland has fallen considerably over recent years.

Sir Michael Arthur, president of Boeing Europe and former British ambassador to Germany and high commissioner to India, said: "The reason those jobs are at risk is because of the management of Bombardier taking certain decisions that put those jobs at risk.

"Boeing is being used as a scapegoat for that reduction in Northern Ireland jobs which we all regret but which in a way pre-dates the issues."

Sir Michael re-iterated Boeing's assertion that its legal action was about creating a level playing field between competitors bidding for sales.

Boeing has claimed Bombardier used state subsidies to "dump" their planes on the US market at below cost price, giving them an unfair advantage.

Critics of Boeing's legal action claimed the firm also received subsidies from the US administration in the form of defence spending and said its aircraft were not in direct competition with a version of the C-Series at the heart of the current dispute.

Sir Michael said: "This was a pure commercial challenge for a sale that we felt was unfair."

DUP MP Ian Paisley retorted: "It is spiteful, not commercial."

Another senior Boeing official said Bombardier's problems were "deep-rooted" and pre-dated the current dispute.

He told the committee: "It is effectively a smokescreen to blame Boeing for their problems."

Thousands of Belfast jobs could be at risk if a proposed 300 per cent duty on exports to the US is imposed on Bombardier's new C-Series jet following the Boeing complaint. The wings of the aircraft are made in Northern Ireland. A final determination on the matter from the US department of commerce is due next Tuesday, December 19.

In order to bid to avoid the crippling import tariffs, assembly of the C-Series will be carried out at the Airbus factory in the US state of Alabama under a partnership.

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