Bombardier says North will continue to be ‘important supplier’

Aerospace group says it does not have timeline for sale of production sites in North

A Bombardier spokeswoman said the company would “take the time required to find the right buyer” for its Northern Ireland plants. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A Bombardier spokeswoman said the company would “take the time required to find the right buyer” for its Northern Ireland plants. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Canadian aerospace group Bombardier has confirmed that Northern Ireland will continue to be an “important supplier” to it.

The group last week announced it was selling all five production sites in the North which have a combined core workforce of 3,600 people.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: “Belfast remains an important supplier to Bombardier today and will continue to be.”

The Canadian group plans to sell both its Northern Ireland and Morocco aerostructures operations as part of a strategy to consolidate the business in Montreal, Mexico and Texas.

Moroccan industry minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy said earlier this week that Bombardier’s current wing component plant in Casablanca would continue to be a supplier to Bombardier after the trade sale.

He said he expected the sale of the Moroccan business to be completed within three weeks.

But Bombardier does not appear to have a similar schedule in place for its Northern Ireland operations.

“We have not given a timeline for this transaction, and we will take the time required to find the right buyer,” a Bombardier spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

Major order

Its Northern Ireland operations should be celebrating a major order that Bombardier landed this week for five Learjet 75 aircraft, valued at $69 million (€61.6 million) based on 2019 current list prices.

Bombardier Belfast is responsible for the design and manufacture of the forward and centre fuselages for the Learjet 75 business jets.

But with uncertainty about the future of the plant there is little mood in Belfast for celebrating even amid positive news for production lines.

Politicians in the UK have called on the British government to provide assurance to workers in Northern Ireland that “Bombardier will make sure that the current workforce, skills base and production will continue unscathed.”

Tony Lloyd, shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has said it is important that Bombardier is sold as a “total going concern” and that a “vulture company” does not acquire it and strip its assets and its workforce.

Andrew Stephenson, parliamentary undersecretary of state at the UK’s department for business, said the British government had been “assured by Bombardier that it is committed to finding the right buyer” for its Northern Ireland operations and “will not rush to sell at any price”.