Editor’s Comment: Spirit AeroSystems raises a toast to its future

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.


Spirit AeroSystems has agreed to purchase select assets of Bombardier aerostructures and aftermarket services businesses in Belfast and Casablanca and its maintenance and overhaul business in Dallas for a published figure of around $1.1 billion. This breaks down into $500 million to Bombardier, plus approximately $300 million in net pension liabilities, and approximately $290 million of government grant repayment obligations.

“The Bombardier operations bring world-class engineering expertise to Spirit and add to a strong track record of innovation, especially in advanced composites,” said Spirit AeroSystems president and CEO, Tom Gentile.

“Belfast has developed an impressive position in business jet fuselage and production, in addition to the world-acclaimed fully integrated A220 composite wing. This acquisition is in line with our growth strategy of increasing Airbus content, developing low-cost country footprint, and growing our aftermarket business.”

It’s a bold move for Wichita-based Spirit, which moved on from Boeing in 2005 and specialises in nacelle products and the manufacture of aircraft structures. But it will allow Spirit to more than double its services’ reach globally.

Just a few months ago the outlook at Bombardier’s facility in Belfast (known as Short Brothers) looked particularly bleak. Uncertainty following the aircraft manufacturer’s decision to shed its commercial aviation business to focus on its corporate aviation and rail interests caused widespread apprehension among staff. But with this announcement, Spirit will take on around 4,000 employees from across the three Bombardier sites to continue their current work.

This may not be the last Bombardier asset to be sold off. It has also announced plans to sell the remaining part of its regional jet programme – selling the CRJ family to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for around $550 million early in 2020.

It appears that those purchasing Bombardier’s assets are aware of the quality and level of the business’s work, which is a reflection of the efforts of the staff on the production lines. It appears their futures are secure for the long-term and that is certainly worth raising a glass for when other companies are shedding staff in alarming numbers.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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