Bombardier has won a trade dispute in the United States, in a surprise ruling that could potentially save thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
Members of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) overturned a decision to impose damaging tariffs on imports of the Canadian manufacturer’s C-Series aircraft.
The Trump administration had threatened to impose duties of 292% following a complaint brought by rival Boeing, which claimed the aircraft are being sold at below cost and are being fuelled by government subsidies.
But the ITC found no evidence that Boeing suffered any injury as a result of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines’ order of the C-Series passenger jets.
The move will come as a relief to thousands workers in Belfast, where the C-Series wings are produced.
In a statement, Bombardier said the decision is “a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law”.
The company added: “The C-Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“We are extremely proud of our employees, investors and suppliers who have worked together to bring this remarkable aircraft to the market.” Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional officer for the union’s membership at Bombardier in NI said that the decision “showed what could be achieved when workers stood together, organised and mobilised to defend their interests”.
She added: “When the story is told of this dispute it will be one of how, in the absence of a genuine effort by politicians and the UK government, workers themselves had to take the fight on.
“It was workers who walked the halls of Westminster seeking politicians support, or speaking before parliamentary scrutiny committees raising their awareness. It was workers who relentlessly travelled to Brussels, Montreal and Washington to make the case, workers who took the campaign to every council in Northern Ireland and who mobilised in their thousands.”
Alliance East Belfast MLA Naomi Long said the ruling was “great news” for the city and Northern Ireland.
“It is tribute to the workers and trade unions, and all those who applied pressure throughout this period,” the party leader added.
“I hope it is the end of the matter, which has been highly disruptive to Bombardier and extremely stressful for local employees of the company and those working in the supply chain. “We need to ensure the organisation can now proceed with the construction and supply of one of the most innovative aircraft on the global market.”
TUV leader Jim Allister described the news as “marvellous” and added: “There is still justice. Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this just outcome.
“Now let Bombardier get on with what it does best; building great planes.”