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BBC Scotland's Hayley Millar
"The project will secure more than 1,000 jobs at Prestwick"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 March, 2000, 18:55 GMT
Jumbo deal secures Scottish jobs
Trade and Industry Stephen Byers announces the package
The UK Government's decision to approve a 530m aid package to aircraft makers BAE Systems should help create and secure jobs at its Prestwick operation in Ayrshire.

The repayable investment loan is being used to develop a new super jumbo jet which promises to challenge the United States' monopoly in large aircraft.

This is excellent news for those involved in Airbus manufacture in both Scotland and the north-west of England

Neil McManus
It will create up to 22,000 jobs and secure 60,000 others at plants at Broughton in Flintshire, North Wales, and Filton, near Bristol, where the wings will be manufactured.

The A3XX super-Jumbo is being designed by the Airbus consortium, made up of four European manufacturers including BAE, and is intended to set the standard for a new generation of airliners.

BAE Systems - formerly British Aerospace - will build the wings for the new aircraft which could come into operation within the next four years.

'Excellent news'

BAE Systems Aerostructures, which makes major elements of the Airbus wing at Prestwick and other factories, has welcomed the decision.

Project director Neil McManus said: "This is excellent news for those involved in Airbus manufacture in both Scotland and the north-west of England."

Scotland Office Minister Brian Wilson said up to 200 jobs could be created at Prestwick.

Airbus graphic
The aircraft will have three decks
"Thanks to the hard work of the Prestwick taskforce, management and the workforce themselves and many others, the situation has been turned round to the point today when we can look forward to even more work coming to Prestwick as Airbus take forward the A3XX project," he added.

Danny Carrigan, of the AEEU union, said: "We are also hopeful that it will help Rolls-Royce in Hillington and East Kilbride through the spin-off effect," said Mr Carrigan.

The two Rolls-Royce plants in the Glasgow area make and test jet engines.

Parliamentary question

Designers intend the aircraft to have more than 550 seats spread over two decks, as well as shops and exercise areas.

Scottish National Party defence spokesman Colin Campbell MSP believes the aid package will secure jobs in the medium and long-term in Prestwick.

He said: "I put down a written question last week in the Scottish Parliament asking what had been done by the Scottish Executive to persuade the DTI and the Treasury to authorise this very necessary loan.

Aircraft factory
Thousands of jobs will be created
"I was prompted to do this because the decision had originally been expected at the end of 1999, and it seemed to me that the delay in the announcement was not only causing anxiety, but was delaying the very necessary prototype development that would help to get the A3xx off the ground."

He added that he suspected the Prime Minister Tony Blair was supposed to have made the announcement on funding during a scheduled visit to Scotland at the end of last week.

But Mr Campbell believes Mr Blair side-stepped the Ayr constituency - which includes Prestwick - because his advisors had informed him that Labour was set for a "humiliating defeat" in Thursday's Ayr by-election.

Tory reaction

The Conservative candidate in that contest, John Scott, has also welcomed the announcement.

"This will ensure that investment is brought into British Aerospace and help secure many jobs.

"This development will ensure the retention of the design team expertise at BAE at Prestwick and provide for longer term construction jobs.

"With news like this we should be calling for more by-elections in Ayr," said Mr Scott.

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See also:

13 Mar 00 | Business
Super-Jumbo aid deal approved
30 Aug 99 | The Company File
22,000 jobs if A3xx goes ahead
21 Feb 00 | Scotland
Missile contract jobs boost
08 Sep 98 | Farnborough Air Show
Jumbo challenge for Boeing
12 Jan 99 | The Company File
Airbus taking off
26 Nov 98 | The Company File
Boeing and Airbus 'under investigation'
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