Bombardier plans to cut 490 jobs at its UK aerostructures operation in Belfast as part of wider efforts to restructure the Canadian manufacturer’s aerospace activities.
The airframer says that it “reviewed manpower requirements in Belfast” and decided that it needs to “continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness”.
Just under 4,000 staff are employed at Bombardier’s Belfast facilities, which produce CRJ centre fuselages, wing components for the Q400 turboprop, and fuselage sections and other components for the manufacturer’s business jet programmes.
The Belfast site also manufactures wings for the A220, previously known as the CSeries, which was transferred to Airbus control in July.
Earlier this month, Bombardier disclosed that it was disposing of "non-core assets" - including selling the Q400/Dash 8 programme and its business aircraft training unit - and embarking on a widespread restructuring, in which it would shed 5,000 jobs across the whole company over the next 18 months.
Some 3,000 of those redundancies are to be made in Canada and also include posts in the rail business.
Bombardier acknowledges that the redundancies in Belfast will have an “impact… on our workforce and their families”.
“We continue to explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies,” the manufacturer says.
UK union Unite says that the job cuts – to be made in February and March 2019 – are a “heavy blow for the local economy” and will cover “all skill-sets and occupations” among full-time staff.
Bombardier’s announcement does not cover potential job losses among “agency workers/sub-contractors and the possible future outsourcing of so-called non-core activities”, Unite asserts.
The union’s regional secretary for Ireland Jackie Pollock states: “Unite has feared for some time that Bombardier might be bringing forward large-scale redundancies, but this news exceeds our worse fears.”
Bombardier's UK aerospace activities are mainly concentrated in Belfast, but around 170 staff members employed at a business jet maintenance site at London Biggin Hill airport.