Major new aircraft order a 'fillip' for Bombardier staff in Belfast

US airline JetBlue has agreed a deal to buy up 120 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, previously known as the Bombardier CS300. The wings of the plane are made in Belfast
Gareth McKeown

BOMBARDIER staff in Belfast have received a timely boost with news US airline JetBlue has agreed an order for up to 120 planes partly made in the city.

JetBlue has initially ordered 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, previously known as the Bombardier CS300, with the option of an additional 60 to follow.

The first 60 aircraft, the wings of which are made in Belfast, are scheduled to be delivered in 2020, with the option for the additional 60 beginning in 2025.

The new deal is the the first major order for the plane agreed, since the partnership was announced.

Around 1,000 of Bombardier's 4,000 staff in Northern Ireland currently work on the A220 project

JetBlue chief executive, Robin Hayes the new order is part of ongoing growth at the airline.

“We are evolving our fleet for the future of JetBlue, and the A220-300's impressive range and economics offer us flexibility and support our key financial and operating priorities,” he said.

JetBlue executive vice president and chief financial officer, Steve Priest added:

"We expect the A220 to be an important long-term building block in our goal to deliver superior margins and create long-term shareholder value."

Unite regional secretary in Ireland Jackie Pollock described the deal as a "tremendous fillip" for local Bombardier staff and added that it must bring an end to the manufacturer's cost-cutting and outsourcing from Northern Ireland.

"There can be no justification for job-losses in the context of a swelling order book," he said.

"In particular we need to see the end of outsourcing. The skills base of their workforce in Northern Ireland is a critical factor in their success – this world class aircraft is rooted in the world-class components produced by Northern Ireland workers. There is no sense to outsourcing work to lower cost locations when you are selling multi-million pound aircraft on the basis of their quality."

As part of the tie-up agreed in October, Airbus, who hold a majority stake in what was the CSeries project, rebranded Bombardier's CS100 and CS300 plans earlier this week as the Airbus A220-100 and A220-300.

Speaking at the launch on Tuesday, Airbus president of commercial aircraft, Guillaume Faury commended those at Bombardier who have worked on the former C-Series project.

“I pay tribute to all the women and men at Bombardier and the supply chain who have strived over the past years to bring this fantastic aircraft to the world. The A220 now enters a new phase in its career with all Airbus' ressources behind it to further its commercial success worldwide."

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