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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 17:48 GMT
Superjumbo deal secures jobs
The first prototype of the Airbus A380
The Airbus 380 will be officially unveiled on Tuesday
An aircraft maintenance plant in south Wales has won a multimillion-pound contract to service the engines of the new Airbus A380.

It helps secure the jobs of 760 workers at GE Engine Services at Nantgarw near Caerphilly.

The superjumbo itself is due to be unveiled at a ceremony attended by Tony Blair in France on Tuesday.

It is the second major contract the firm has clinched and was won against "significant competition" worldwide.

Andrew Davies, Minister for Economic Development and Transport, described the contract, won with the help of a Regional Selective Assistance grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, as a "coup for Wales".

The wings for the A380 are already produced at Broughton in Flintshire and shipped to Toulouse in France for assembly.

Key industry

"This is another example of the growing strength of Wales' aerospace industry," said Mr Davies.

"Not only are all the wings for the Airbus A380 manufactured in Wales but the GP7200 engine that will power a large proportion of these aircraft will be maintained, repaired, tested and overhauled in Wales in a hi-tech specially adapted multi-million pound test cell."

There had been fears for the future of the GE factory following a general downturn in the industry in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But last November the GE plant secured a major contract to maintain, repair, test and overhaul Ryanair's fleet of Boeing 737-800s.
Andrew Davies is pictured in the massive engine test cell at the GE Wales facility with Managing Director Karl Fessenden
Minister Andrew Davies said it was a 'major coup' for Wales

The company says the deal forms part of a programme over the next 25 years and will play a significant role in the development of the Nantgarw base.

Karl Fessenden, the plant's managing director, said the contracts would have a major impact on the business.

"Once again our depth of experience and skills have been recognised at an international level," he said.

"This contract demonstrates that MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) in Wales is growing in capabilities and is a real testament to the efforts our skilled workforce and the support we receive from the Welsh Assembly Government and the WDA( Welsh Development Agency)"

Mr Davies added: "Aerospace is a key industry sector in Wales providing more than 20,000 highly-skilled jobs of which approximately 10,000 are in the maintenance repair and overhaul segment which alone contributes some 1bn a year to the Welsh economy."

Tony Blair and other European leaders will be present at Toulouse on Tuesday when the eight-storey high Airbus A380 is finally revealed to the world after a decade of development.




SEE ALSO:
Airbus to unveil giant A380 plane
17 Jan 05 |  Business


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