Delight over BAE Qatar deal – but jobs will still go

(left to right) Combat Air Managing Director for BAE Systems Martin Taylor, Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin, Mark Menzies MP and RAF Force Commander Ian Duguid at BAE Warton in Lancashire, where Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are being assembled. BAE Systems announced a contract valued at �5 billion to supply aircraft to Qatar, helping to secure jobs in the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 11, 2017. The contract provides for 24 Typhoon aircraft with delivery expected to commence in late 2022. See PA story INDUSTRY BAE. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
(left to right) Combat Air Managing Director for BAE Systems Martin Taylor, Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin, Mark Menzies MP and RAF Force Commander Ian Duguid at BAE Warton in Lancashire, where Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are being assembled. BAE Systems announced a contract valued at �5 billion to supply aircraft to Qatar, helping to secure jobs in the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 11, 2017. The contract provides for 24 Typhoon aircraft with delivery expected to commence in late 2022. See PA story INDUSTRY BAE. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Unions and MPs have welcomed a £5bn order for 24 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from Qatar which will safeguard thousands of Lancashire BAE Systems jobs.

But they accept the biggest defence deal for a decade has not prevented jobs being lost.

The deal announced with the Qatar Emiri Air Force includes a support and training package and delivery of the jets will start late in 2022.

But hopes that it might stave off some of the 700 plus job losses announced in October by BAE Systems earlier this year in Lancashire where the aircraft are made, have been cooled by unions.

Bob Holmes, Warton Union Convenor said: “We are delighted the order has been confirmed. But it will not have any effect on the job losses which have been announced.

“The company had factored in the likely Qatar order before they made their redundancy announcement.

“We are pleased it has been won because if not it would have made things significantly worse.

“The good part from this order is that all the work will be done at the two Lancashire plants, Samlesbury and Warton and there is no work share with the customer.

“The manufacture and final assembly will all be done here.”

He said the union were continuing to work with the management over the redundancy process which will run until 2019.

He said there was the opportunity to win more new work during that extended period which might safeguard more jobs and the company was continually in talks with potential customers.

The Qatar deal makes it the ninth country to buy Typhoon.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “This is a great day for Warton and BAE Systems.

“This is the culmination of years of hard work by BAE Systems and the Government and is the biggest defence deal the UK has seen for more than a decade, and will help keep the Typhoon production line’s 5,000 direct employees in work for years, as well as thousands more in the supply chain.

“I’m delighted the Defence Secretary got the deal signed and am pleased to see the Government helping on other orders around the world, with potential deals in the offing from Saudi Arabia, Finland, Belgium and other countries.

“This deal ensures the production line will be in place for years to come, and we can now help BAE build on future orders.”

Defence Procurement minister Harriett Baldwin visited the Warton site.

She said: “I am delighted to be in Warton to congratulate the team from BAE Systems for winning the UK’s biggest defence contract for 10 years.

“There has been a lot of discussion between BAE, Qatar and the Government about this deal for a long time – this is an early Christmas present for the workforce here, securing thousands of jobs.

“The Government is working with BAE Systems on other bids, including Saudi Arabia, Belgium and Finland, and this deal shows the positive and bright future for this aircraft.”

Preston MP Mark Kendrick said: “It is a feeling of more relief than elation that the order has been signed.

“Whilst we are happy that the contract is there, unfortunately the redundancies that have already been announced will still be going ahead.”

South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy said the deal was “welcome news”.

and Preston Council leader Peter Rankin said it was “very good news for local people”.