Government is to provide £340m of loans to Airbus for the UK's involvement in the A350 project, a move which is said to “create and sustain” over 6,000 UK jobs.
Lord Mandelson announced the funding on a visit to the Airbus Filton site today where the project is taking place. He described the UK aerospace industry as one of the “crown jewels” of the home economy and manufacturing industry.
“Aerospace is a sector that we are rightly proud of in the UK,” said Mandelson. “It stimulates innovation across industry, demonstrates our capability to work with the most advanced technologies, and provides high-quality, highly skilled employment. It is a sector at the heart of our advanced manufacturing strategy,”
The move will “create and sustain” 1,200 Airbus jobs at the firm’s Filton and Broughton sites as well as up to 5,000 more throughout the UK supply chain. It is currently unknown exactly how many of these jobs will actually be new ones.
Ian Godden, chief executive of The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) described the move as “very welcome” as the A350 is “an extremely important programme for the future of the UK aerospace industry.”
Governments in both France – where Airbus is headquarted – and Germany have recently provided similar packages to the A350 operations in their own countries.
“The significant technological advances of the composite materials being used means that the importance of the A350 programme in developing the skills and technology for the future sustainability of the UK aerospace industry cannot be exaggerated,” said Godden. “Future civil programmes over the next twenty years are estimated to be worth over US$2.6 trillion and the UK must be in pole position to secure a significant proportion of this business. Today’s announcement is a significant step towards achieving this position.
The Filton site makes wings for the latest version of the A350 – the XWB (extra wide body). The plane is to be a commercial passenger jet which will challenge Boeing’s 787.
The funding move announced today follows the £45m contributed to Rolls Royce’s expansion and the £90m puit up for research into the aerospace industry. Godden applauded government’s continued support of a UK civil aerospace industry with a 17 per cent global market share.