Page last updated at 05:37 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 06:37 UK

28m investment at Airbus factory

Airbus at Broughton
The funding should secure the long-term future of the plant

Plane-maker Airbus has been awarded a £28m grant from the assembly government to ensure the future of hi-tech wing production in Flintshire.

The money will be ploughed into the Broughton plant, creating a new centre to develop composite wing production.

Brian Fleet, of Airbus, said it allowed the company to look beyond the "acute challenges of the economic downturn".

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the funding would guarantee Airbus' future in Wales for years "if not decades".

Mr Morgan added: "We can all celebrate a major investment guaranteeing Airbus' partnership with Wales for years, if not decades to come.

This investment helps us to look beyond the acute challenges that currently face us
Brian Fleet, Airbus

"We also celebrate the fact Wales and the United Kingdom will now be moving into the mainstream in composites manufacturing - not just playing at composites, but moving to the top end of high-tech composite manufacturing technology.

"Airbus is an integral part of the Welsh economy. It is an invaluable asset to us.

"This investment - and the move into composites - reinforces and enhances our reputation still further as a country with high skills and high value products."

Brian Fleet, of Airbus UK, said: "We welcome the Welsh Assembly Government's vital forward-looking investments in composites.

"This investment helps us to look beyond the acute challenges that currently face us as a result of the global economic downturn and allow us to take a long view into the future."

The announcement comes just three months after Airbus announced it was looking to cut 250 agency jobs at the Broughton site, which employs more than 6,000 people.

Airbus said it was looking at reducing staff in "a review of its business and manpower requirements."

At the time, the Welsh Assembly Government said while "disappointing" it was "encouraging" the company was looking to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Unions were told the redundancies result from a downturn in orders, particularly for the Hawker business jet.

The new funding package announced on Friday aims to develop composite wing technology which will be used in the next generation of aircraft.

It will create an "environmentally-friendly" facility for the assembly of wings at Broughton.

The assembly government also said the funding would "build future skill sets and strengthen the role of Wales as a centre of high-technology industries".

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "This is not merely a matter of developing skills and safeguarding the employment of skilled people, vital though that is.

"It is a matter of introducing new technology that will put Wales and the UK at the forefront of carbon fibre composites technology."

Welsh Liberal Democrat economy spokeswoman Jenny Randerson AM said a business-friendly environment still needed to be created.

"I, of course, welcome the fact that the government is prioritizing the future of one of the most important employers in north Wales but we won't stem the tide of unemployment and economic downturn just by grant funding businesses and employers."

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