Fears for 180 more job losses at Thompson Aero Seating

Thompson Aero Seating is set to shed another 180 jobs in Portadown and Banbridge
Gary McDonald Business Editor

UNIONS have slammed the Stormont Executive for “completely failing the aerospace sector” after Chinese-owned Thompson Aero Seating said it is shedding another 180 jobs, roughly a quarter of its workforce.

The move, which comes after the company revealed that annual losses more than quintupled from £23 million to £121 million, will impact its operations at Carn in Portadown and in Banbridge.

The company, which designs and manufactures premium business class seats for commercial airlines, laid off 350 contract workers at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Then last June then revealed that up to 500 permanent staff could be made redundant.

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly described the potential loss of the jobs as “devastating news during a time of crisis”.

She said: “I will be exploring every opportunity to provide support to those affected in this industry and will meet trade union representatives as soon as possible.

“Aerospace plays a central role in our region's economic success, but the sector faces huge challenges as a result of the Covid shutdown of the aviation sector leading to a collapse in new orders.

“The Executive cannot afford to sit back and watch – it must now intervene to protect vital industrial capacity, jobs and skills.”

Her calls were echoed by Jackie Pollock of the Unite union, who said: “We don't need vision statements or words recognising the vital importance of aerospace, but rather action to protect jobs and vital skills during an exceptional downturn.

“Across Europe, governments have intervened to safeguard their aviation and aerospace sectors – meanwhile London and Belfast have effectively sat on their hands while jobs are slashed.”

In its relatively short lifespan from the early 2000s, Thompson has grown from a modest supplier of full flat horizontal beds to one of the world's top manufacturers of business and first class aircraft seating.

Its worldwide customer base features top airlines like Delta, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, and its seats are installed on all major aircraft types from Airbus and Boeing including the A380 and Boeing B787 Dreamliner.

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