Naomi Long MP
The announcement by Bombardier Aerospace of their largest ever contract, worth over £4.8 billion, is a huge endorsement of the company and presents an opportunity to both secure the existing business and also create a strong base on which to build for the future of the company.
It is a vote of confidence in the highly skilled and dedicated workforce by the world’s fastestgrowing private aviation company, Vistajet. Their private jets, based across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and West Africa, as well as in emerging markets, will be a fantastic advertisement in the global market place for the technological prowess of Bombardier and its staff locally.
The Belfast site is responsible for the design and manufacture of key component parts of these 142 aircraft, including forward fuselages, engine nacelles and horizontal stabilisers. Those involved in their production are in the kind of highly skilled, added value jobs which Northern Ireland needs to sustain and grow if we are to rebalance our economy. The order will also potentially open up new opportunities for the local supply chain.
Bombardier is one of a number of globally successful companies with bases here and that continued commitment shows that Northern Ireland is still able to compete on the global stage in engineering and technology.
East Belfast has a proud industrial heritage. From companies like Shorts, acquired by Bombardier in 1989, to Harland and Wolff, and a host of others, engineering expertise and technological innovation have played a key role in the history of Belfast and today’s announcement demonstrates that these skill sets can continue to play an important role in the city’s future.
The Northern Ireland economy has been facing uncertain times with some of our leading firms recently announcing significant job losses. Just last week, in my own constituency, regrettably, Thales announced that they have to make 50 NI workers redundant, as part of a UK wide reduction in their workforce, due to a downturn in defence spending.
Against that backdrop, Bombardier’s securing of this large contract and the crucial role which the Belfast operation played in that process, demonstrates that there are still significant opportunities in this sector. Our challenge is to ensure that we continue to invest in science and technology, to ensure that, when those opportunities arise, Northern Ireland is poised to make the most of them.