Bombardier tariff move reignites job fears in Belfast

The fight carries on into the new year but the ruling has added further weight to concerns over jobs
The fight carries on into the new year but the ruling has added further weight to concerns over jobs

Fears for job losses at Bonbardier’s Belfast division have been reignited after the United States commerce department confirmed plans to impose duties on imports of Bombardier C Series in the ongoing row begun by planemaking rival Boeing.

Union leaders warned that jobs at the plant, where the wings for the C Series are made, could be “crushed” after the US department issued a final ruling imposing duties of 292% on planes sold into the country.

Unite called on the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to set aside the decision when it meets in February to discuss the case but, in the meantime, however the reinforcement of what has been attacked as a wildly unfair and punitive rate continues to cause alarm.

It was a deal to sell 75 C Series to US airline Delta that sparked Boeing’s complaint that Bombardier had used government support to cut their price and in the process damaging Boeing.

The claim has been rigorously dismissed by Bombardier, Delta, concerned unions and others.

Mike Nadolski, VP for communications and public affairs, said it was clear that Boeing had suffered no loss in the deal.

“Unfortunately, the Commerce Department decision is divorced from this reality and ignores long-standing business practices in the aerospace industry, including launch pricing and the financing of multibillion dollar aircraft programs,” he said.

“Moreover, we are deeply disappointed that the Commerce Department did not take this opportunity to rectify its past errors.

“We remain confident that at the end of the process, the United States International Trade Commission will reach the right conclusion, which is that the C Series benefits the US aerospace industry, US airlines, and the US flying public.

However, if the ITC finds in Boeing’s favour the tariffs will be applied.

Warning that the decision could directly impact US jobs, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “More than 50% of C Series components are sourced from the US, where the supply chain sustains 22,000 US jobs. The economic impact of these tariffs would be felt in communities on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The C Series represents a tremendous opportunity for further growth in the sector.”

UK industry body ADS said it was disappointed by the decision but sounded an upbeat note.

“This is not the final ruling in this case and there is still time for a solution to be found that averts the threat of US tariffs,” said CEO Paul Everitt.

“In the highly competitive global aerospace industry it is important airlines and their passengers have access to the best technology and the most innovative products.

“The C-Series has great potential for future growth, and governments in the UK, US and Canada must continue to work hard to find an appropriate resolution to the dispute as quickly as possible.”