Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury was cagey this morning on whether the firm is looking to buy Bombardier’s endangered factory in Belfast.
Bombardier announced its Northern Ireland operation was up for sale at the start of the month, sparking calls for clarity over the future of its roughly 4,000 workers in the region. Airbus is seen as an obvious prospect to buy the plant, given it manufactures the wings for its A220 jet. It has called the plant a “key supplier” in the past.
“We’ll be looking at it,” Faury said. “We will make sure that whatever happens preserves our interest.”
But he added discussion over whether the company would move in was “premature”.
Analysts believe the site could be attractive to Airbus, given its pre-existing business there, but first tier engineering suppliers operating in the aerospace sector – such as GKN or Spirit Aerosystems – may also see it as an attractive proposition.
On a visit to London, Faury also told reporters both Airbus and arch rival Boeing were set to lose out if trade tensions between the European Union and the United States escalated any further.
Both sides have threatened to slap tens of billions of pounds-worth of tariffs on goods traded across the Atlantic, in the nearly 15-year dispute at the World Trade Organization over subsidies handed to the aerospace firms.
“The trade tensions that we see, we believe they are lose-lose tensions,” said Faury.
“We don’t think we’ll be losing more than the other guys in that situation, but we think it should be resolved in one way or another that enables global businesses like aviation to continue to grow.”