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Bombardier axes 2,500 jobs as aviation crisis builds

Alan Tovey
Construction of a wing for a private jet at Bombardier's Northern Ireland factory

Bombardier is to axe 2,500 jobs amid a wave of cutbacks as the aerospace industry reels from a collapse in flights worldwide.

Hundreds of roles are thought to be at risk in Northern Ireland, where Bombardier has 3,500 staff and is the country's largest manufacturer.

Bombardier staff in Belfast produce components for the company’s business jets as well as large parts for the Airbus A220, which was previously at the centre of a transatlantic trade row.

It has not yet said how many jobs will go in Northern Ireland. Canada-based Bombardier said the majority of redundancies will be in its home nation.

The company added that business jet deliveries are forecast to plunge 30pc due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It said: "Bombardier must adjust its operations and workforce to ensure that it emerges from the current crisis on solid footing.”

Bombardier announced in April that it would shut production for at least  four weeks at its Northern Ireland factories and furlough non-critical staff.

The firm has about 60,000 employees worldwide between its aerospace and rail divisions.

Last month Bombardier warned that production would be unable to continue at its giant train factory in Derby without Government support.  It was forced to suspend operations at the plant - which has about 2,000 staff - and sought relief from penalty clauses relating to delivery delays on train contracts. 

The job losses are just the latest in the aviation and come after Rolls-Royce said it would ditch 9,000 jobs - about a fifth of its workforce

Fellow aerospace business GKN has started a voluntary redundancy programme for staff at its Bristol plants, which jointly employ 2,000 people. The company said last year that it planned to axe 1,000 staff worldwide in its aerospace division but this number is now expected to be much larger because of the pandemic. 

Earlier this week another Northern Ireland aerospace company, Thompson Aero Seating, said it was seeking up to 500 redundancies. It has 1,300 staff across several factories in the region.

Boeing is cutting 10pc of its workforce - about 16,000 jobs - and Airbus is expected to announce reductions of a similar proportion.  

A spokesman for Bombardier's Belfast operations said: “We are reviewing our requirements for our Northern Ireland operations for all our aircraft programmes and will communicate any impact in due course."