MIAMI — Canadian airplane manufacturer Bombardier has announced that it will cut at least 490 jobs in Northern Ireland, following its progressive exit of the aviation manufacturing industry.
Bombardier recently announced the sale of its Q400 program and the De Havilland trademark to Canadian counterpart, Viking Air, just a few months after Airbus took over the CSeries program and re-named it Airbus A220.
The manufacturer is also planning to sell all its non-core assets, which according to them, are worth around CAD$900 million.
Currently, Bombardier employs over 4,000 people across Northern Ireland. The manufacturer announced that its team had reviewed manpower requirements in Belfast and that they “regret to confirm that we must reduce our workforce.”
According to Bombardier, the job cuts will happen within the next 12 to 18 months.
“Following the global workforce adjustments announced by Bombardier Inc. on November 8, 2018, we have reviewed our manpower requirements in Belfast and regret to confirm that we must reduce our workforce across the company by 490 employees,” Bombardier said in a public statement.
“We acknowledge the impact this will have on our workforce and their families and we continue to explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies. However, we need to continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness.”
The job cuts in Northern Ireland represent a significant blow to the country’s economy and to the thousands of families who rely on the jobs provided by Bombardier.
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson revealed that after speaking to Bombardier’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Ryan, the job cut news “obviously caused concern amongst the local workforce in Belfast.”
“My thoughts today are primarily with those who now face an uncertain future and I hope the company will do everything possible to minimize the number of compulsory redundancies,” Robinson said.
The Airbus A220 program’s development caused enthusiasm in Northern Ireland when the plane’s wings were appointed to be manufactured in Belfast.
Today, however, following the cut announcements, “Bombardier is obviously making difficult decisions to ensure the future vibrancy of their operation globally,” said Robinson, suggesting that the landscape for the Northern Ireland workforce remains uncertain.
A Traumatic Exit From The Aviation Manufacturing
The 490 jobs that will be axed in Northern Ireland follow the 5,000 jobs that will cease to exist across the manufacturer’s worldwide operation.
In Canada alone, over 3,000 job posts will be eliminated.
In 2016, however, Belfast suffered the loss of 1,000 Bombardier job posts, which occurred after the manufacturer restructured its operations in Northern Ireland for the first time.
Last month, Bombardier revealed that it plans to “streamline, lean out and simplify the company,” as part of a major restructuring process that will save the manufacturer over CAD$250 million.
In Belfast, Bombardier employs over 4,000 people, of which at least 25% of them working for the Airbus A220 program.
Airbus now builds the A220 wings in Belfast, which, for now, might be a reassurance to the workers who are dedicated to the thriving new Airbus jet.