Bombardier staff in North fear job losses in global cull

Canadian group plans to cut 5,000 roles from workforce

Bombardier is expected to offer more detail on the planned cuts over the coming weeks. Photograph: iStock

Bombardier is expected to offer more detail on the planned cuts over the coming weeks. Photograph: iStock


Bombardier is to axe 5,000 jobs from its global workforce, prompting fears that its 4,000 strong workforce in the North could be vulnerable to another round of job cuts.

Bombardier said on Thursday that it had launched “a company-wide” restructuring programme focusing on “optimising production, management processes and reducing indirect costs”. 

Bombardier’s Northern Ireland management team would not comment on how this might affect its operations in the North.

A spokeswoman said Bombardier’s Northern Ireland management would “take the necessary time to evaluate what this means for our aerostructures and engineering services business”.

“We will communicate with our employees in more detail over the coming weeks,” she said.

But union leaders in the North already fear the worst, particularly as Bombardier has repeatedly voiced concerns about the impact a “no-deal” Brexit could have on its European operations.

The Canadian aerospace giant employs 69,500 people across four business segments with about 8,000 of these based in the UK.

Half of those are employed in Bombardier’s aerospace operations in Northern Ireland but another 4,000 are employed at Bombardier Transportation which includes 2,000 people in Derby with another 1,000 in London and more than 1,600 service employees based at 31 customer location sites around the UK.


Michael Ryan, Bombardier’s president of aerostructures and engineering services, recently warned that the company might have to stockpile supply parts in the North if the UK left the European Union without a deal, saying this could cost Bombardier up to £30 million (€34 million).

The trade union Unite said the aerospace group’s latest redundancy programme was a “brutal blow” to its workforce and said it had sought immediate assurances that none of the proposed job losses will be implemented at Bombardier’s five sites in the North.

Unite’s regional coordinating officer, Susan Fitzgerald said: “As yet we have no confirmation of what this latest announcement will mean locally.This announcement comes only two years since seven thousand jobs were cut. 

“In the recent period in Northern Ireland we have witnessed the sell-off of the tubing and systems function, the outsourcing of IT, finance, plant engineering, canteens, facilities and security functions.”

Industry sources say they expect Bombardier to look closely at the cost structure of its manufacturing operations in the North which are heavily involved in a number of aircraft programmes, including the Q Series, which the Canadian group said on Thursday it has sold to a subsidiary of Longview Aviation Capital Corp.

Historically Bombardier Belfast has designed and manufactured the wing-mounted flight components for the Q400 turboprop although a spokeswoman for Bombardier Northern Ireland described its involvement in the Q400 programme as “minimal”.

Before the latest group restructuring programme Bombardier was already under pressure to cut production costs in Belfast particularly in relation to the A220 aircraft, which was formerly known as the C-Series.

Bombardier sold a controlling stake in its C-Series aircraft programme to Airbus during the summer and Airbus has since told all of its suppliers on the CSeries that it is looking for cost reductions of up to 20 per cent.

Separately,the union has said it also fears that up to 140 jobs could be under threat at AES-owned Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations in the North.

AES has confirmed 20 redundancies but the union believes this is likely to rise.