More in

Boeing's takeover of Spirit AeroSystems' threatens jobs at Belfast factory

1 min read

After the announcement of Boeing's acquisition on Monday, Airbus has separately agreed to take over the production of Spirit AeroSystems A220 jet wings and fuselage business located in Belfast.

The $4.7bn purchase has raised calls for concern from politicians and union leaders warning against dismantling Spirit AeroSystems Northern Ireland factory, which is the region's biggest manufacturer with around 3,500 staff.

The uncertainty comes from the non-Airbus parts of the Belfast business after Spirit AeroSystems announced its plans to sell those separately. The United Trade Union estimates that 40% of the staff in Belfast operation are employed by Airbus; and 60% in non-airbus work meaning that splitting the business could leave over half of the workers' jobs under threat.

The takeover of the A220 work "leaves large questions about the rest of the Spirit business" said Ulster Unionist MLA, Steve Aiken.

Michael Ryan, Chair of Spirit in the UK told local stakeholders, “Any dismantling of the business would be extremely detrimental to the long-term future of the Belfast business, and by extension, the region’s aerospace industry."

An Airbus spokesperson told The Financial Times that the company would work with the UK government and the Northern Ireland executive to “stabilise and improve” Spirit’s operations.

Spirit AeroSystems is a US-based manufacturer of aerostructures for commercial planes that was founded in 2005 when Boeing spun-off its Wichita division to an investment firm. Boeing has now reclaimed the company to solve issues around manufacturing problems in-house, with the total transaction value estimated at $8.3bn, including Spirit AeroSystems last reported net debt.