North East Wales

David Cameron: Airbus investment shows 'confidence'

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Media captionDavid Cameron during his tour of the new £400m Airbus facility

Prime Minister David Cameron has paid tribute to Airbus workers, as he officially opened a new wings factory in Flintshire.

Mr Cameron said the opening of the £400m North Factory at Broughton underlined Airbus' confidence in the company's British workforce.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said the factory demonstrated Wales' "can-do attitude".

The factory will make carbon-fibre wings for Airbus' A350 airliner.

About 650 of the 6,000 workforce will be based at the factory.

However, Airbus said the new plant, and development of composite wing technology, meant security for all staff at Broughton, which it claims is the UK's largest single manufacturing site.

Airbus has more than 550 orders for the A350, which is due to be in service in 2013.

The Prime Minister, who flew in from Scotland for the visit on Thursday, said: "The government is committed to building a more balanced economy with stronger manufacturing, exports and private investment, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK.

"I welcome the opening of Airbus' new state-of-the-art facility which will contribute to this and support our programme to create sustainable economic growth.

"Airbus's investment here also underlines its confidence in the expertise of its British workforce and in the UK's manufacturing base."

Mr Cameron arrived at the base on Thursday afternoon.

Mrs Gillan said she was confident the investment would "further cement Wales' growing reputation as a first class innovator and leader" in the aerospace sector.

She added: "This facility is demonstrative of Wales' can-do attitude."

The mid-sized A350 will be able to carry up to 340 passengers when it starts service in 2013.

More than half of the wings' make-up will be carbon fibre, which, says Airbus, will make the A350 25% more fuel efficient than current airliners of the same size.

Paul McKinlay, head of the plant, said: "For our employees, this new factory - this aircraft - signals security of employment for the coming years at Broughton, and with 6,000 employees here that's absolutely great news."

'World class company'

Mark Barclay, Airbus' head of wings manufacture, told BBC Wales the plant had an order backlog of five or six years.

Image caption David Cameron signs a replica wing at the new North Factory

"You can never say secure forever - given the market downturns, given some of the announcements that could happen in terms of fuel pricing or global recessions.

"But for the time being we have a very healthy order book and I'm counting on all of the good people of Broughton and indeed the UK and their supply chain to step up to the mark here."

First Minister Carwyn Jones, who was also at the plant's opening, said: "This is a fantastic day for both Airbus and Wales.

"The wings being made here showcase us at our best - a world class company based here in Wales making a product that will be used across the globe."

The Welsh Government's role included a £29m investment for wing training and advanced manufacturing at Broughton.

BBC Radio Wales' Wales@Work has a special programme on Airbus on Thursday from 19:00-19:30 BST.

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