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Bombardier’s Belfast factory awarded £12m government support for new technology

Image credit: DT

The government has announced a £12m funding package for Bombardier’s Belfast factory, securing around 1,000 jobs.

The plane manufacturer makes wings for its A220 airliners at the plant, but it came under threat after the US Department of Commerce recommended punitive actions against the company last year.

Manufacturing rival Boeing complained after the firm started selling its CSeries jets to Delta Airlines below cost price, prompting the US to attempt a near 300 per cent punitive duty on sales of the jets for five years.

Ultimately, the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US ruled against Boeing and in favour of Bombardier in January.

While visiting the plant, Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged his support for Bombardier and welcomed the new orders of 60 A220s announced last week at the Farnborough Airshow, before chairing a financial services roundtable.

The new funding for Bombardier will support the company to develop the thrust reverser for the new Airbus A320 NEO nacelle.

“We are backing Bombardier with £12m of new money to help develop cutting-edge technology - here in Northern Ireland - for modern aircraft,” Hammond said.

“This will help to secure jobs for Northern Ireland’s economy and cement the UK’s role as a leading manufacturer of high-tech aircraft components.”

Companies such as Bombardier are wary of how the Brexit process will impact their highly interconnected supply chains which spread across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as trade dealings with Europe.

In an interview with E&T in April, the former director of the World Customs Organisation said that a frictionless “smart border” between the UK and the Republic of Ireland is “perfectly possible and doable” within as little as two years. 

DUP leader Arlene Foster met with Hammond following his engagements. She described their meeting as a “useful discussion”.

“The Government have been very clear that Northern Ireland cannot be separated from our main market in Great Britain. We will move in lockstep with the rest of the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union and there will be no border in the Irish Sea,” she said.

In July, Bombardier entered into a joint bid with Japanese company Hitachi to construct trains for the massive HS2 project in Britain. 

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