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Aerospace Wales gets a flying start to promote nation's industry; LAUNCH: Aviation forum will bring together world's foremost companies in campaign to accelerate technology.

Byline: WILL SMALE

RHODRI MORGAN is championing a new initiative to promote Wales as a centre of world excellence in aerospace.

The First Minister was today set to be guest of honour at the official launch of Aerospace Wales (AW).

More than 100 guests, representing every aspect of the Welsh aerospace industry, were due to attend the launch at the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (Dara), in St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, The new forum will bring together some of the world's foremost aerospace companies in a campaign to accelerate innovation, technological development and growth in a sector that already employs 20,000 people in more than 200 Welsh companies that between them turn over pounds 2bn a year.

The companies taking part include British Airways Maintenance, Airbus UK, BAE Systems, Brown Root and Marshall, General Electric, and Nordam.

They have pledged to:

Share market intelligence and best practice to make Welsh aerospace more competitive;

Jointly support the development of new businesses in the industry;

Encourage inward investment;

Devise a national strategy to improve market share and create new job opportunities;

Establish an industry-led initiative to make Wales a centre of excellence in aerospace.

AW chief executive John Whalley, said, "I am delighted to be joining Aerospace Wales at its inception. I look forward to working with all companies, big and small, and the education sector to ensure we develop the skills and innovative products and services to secure a leading place in the world's aerospace markets."

Graham Hawker, chief executive of the WDA, which is supporting AW, said that aerospace is already a very important sector in the modern Welsh economy.

"We believe that it offers Wales outstanding opportunities for major growth in high-value businesses and in high-quality jobs, " he said.

"We give high priority to support for aerospace developments. We are supporting the creation of the forum because partnership within the industry is going to be the key to capitalising on Wales's strengths in aerospace. Aerospace Wales will be the mechanism for that partnership to make an impact on the development of a sector which can make a real difference."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 26, 2002
Words:351
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