A Bombardier CS300 aircraft takes off at the Paris Air Show. Picture: REUTERS
A Bombardier CS300 aircraft takes off at the Paris Air Show. Picture: REUTERS

Britain has thrown financial support behind exports of Bombardier CSeries jets part-built by Northern Ireland workers caught up in a recent trade row.

Export credit agency UK Export Finance said the financing for jets being delivered to Korean Air would support jobs in Belfast, where the Canadian plane maker operates a state-of-the-art wings plant.

The move comes weeks after Bombardier won a shock reprieve from severe US import duties on the 110-130-seat CSeries when a US tribunal ruled Boeing had failed to prove it had been harmed by low prices of CSeries sold to Delta Air Lines.

The Boeing-Bombardier dispute raised questions over jobs at Northern Ireland’s largest industrial plant and drew warnings to Boeing over UK ties from Prime Minister Theresa May, who depends on a Northern Ireland party for her majority.

Though Bombardier receives some UK development funding, UKEF had long resisted Canadian requests to finance CSeries exports that partly compete with those of Airbus, the European plane giant that employs 12,000 people in the UK.

The decision to provide support reflects a power shift in the aerospace industry after Airbus agreed to buy a majority of the struggling CSeries in 2017 and is viewed by some experts as a reminder of ongoing UK interest in the CSeries’ future. "It is a small amount of money but a signal to Boeing," a European trade source said, asking not to be identified.

For its part, Boeing has signalled it would sue Bombardier again if provoked by what it regards as unfair pricing of CSeries jets. But there are signs that it is trying to defuse the row as it highlights investments in Canada and Britain.

CE Dennis Muilenburg told Reuters last week Boeing was still examining whether to appeal against the International Trade Commission decision to overturn CSeries duties.

However, trade analysts say an appeal looks increasingly unlikely ahead of a March 12 deadline, as Boeing seeks to smooth over a row that soured relations with Canada and Britain and resulted in the loss of a Boeing fighter sale to Canada.

Reuters

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