Bombardier’s baby set to soar but does the Brexit deal have wings?

Things are set to get busy one way or another after Tuesday's Brexit vote in Parliament
Things are set to get busy one way or another after Tuesday's Brexit vote in Parliament

The news on Friday that Flybe has found a buyer in a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic and the Stobart group is a fitting end to a week that also brought comfort to Bombardier staff working on wings for the Airbus 220 - formerly the C-Series aircraft.

Already announced during 2018, the official signing of contracts for 120 aircraft is a major shot in the arm for the project which faced significant challenges during its drawn out development journey.

Those problems and the financially crippling delays now seem to be behind the project though ownership has, of course, moved to Airbus.

The new planes destined for JetBlue and newcomer ‘Moxy’ will assembled in Alabama but that doesn’t matter a jot in Belfast where the composite wings were designed and created.

Sixty of the planes wil go to US carrier JetBlue but the more interesting deal is for the other 60, agreed with David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, who is now about to launch what will be his fifth airline.

“The A220-300 is the right airplane for a new airline that will be focused on passenger service and satisfaction,” he said.

“The A220’s ability to operate profitably in thin, underserved markets across a broad spectrum of ranges is unique.”

It would seem that the the C-Series/A220 has - finally - truly taken off.

Less certain to fly is the Brexit deal drawn up by Prime Minster Theresa May that is due to go before Parliament on Tuesday.

It’s the answer to a question that the majority of people in Northern Ireland didn’t want asked in the first place, but it is set to dominate 2019 like it did the year before.

This week various business groups spelled out their fears but none with more clarity than Manufacturing Northern Ireland whose CEO Stpehen Kelly has been at the forefront of the drive to prevent a No Deal Brexit.

Lamenting the current situation, where the existence of politics is assuming mythical status, his response this week was blunt.

“Those who want Brexit to be a success need to start listening to these businesses or face the prospect of job losses in the mouth of May’s Council elections.”

We can but hope.