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pounds 1.5bn DEAL FOR FACTORY.

Byline: By WAYNE NOWACZYK South Wales Echo

A south Wales aero-plant can look forward to a very bright future after securing a pounds 1.5bn deal, Welsh politicians predicted today. The British Airways 10-year contract with American-owned General Electric (GE) at Nantgarw, between Pontypridd and Caerphilly, will secure 850 jobs.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council leaders today hailed one of the biggest contracts in airline history - to maintain the engines that power BA's Boeing 737s, 747s and 767s as well as 10 of its 26 Airbus A320s announced earlier this year - as 'highly significant.'

Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf council Russell Roberts said: 'It's absolutely brilliant news for RCT and the surrounding areas.

'It's going to secure existing jobs which are exactly the high quality highly-paid jobs we need which will lead to creating other jobs in the community and that's especially good news after what happened with Dara at St Athan.

'The Boeing 747s and 767s are the workhorses of the airlines of the world that will be flying for years so to get that sort of maintenance contract is highly significant.'

His development colleague in the cabinet, Councillor Rob Bevan, said: 'This will stabilise things - it shows that large companies are keeping faith with this locality and its workforce.' Local councillor Adrian Hobson said: 'People around here are justly proud that we have a world-beater on our doorsteps.'

Wales' Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said: 'This contract is a massive vote of confidence in the facility and the wider aviation sector in Wales.

'We lobbied hard for British Airways to make this investment in Wales. The fact that we have secured the contract shows that we can seriously out-punch our weight in the global aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul market.'

Aerospace employs about 20,000 in Wales - half of them in maintenance - pumping about pounds 1bn annually into the Welsh economy.: 'Great news for the town':'i have lived here for more than 20 years and the site has always been a big part of the community. I know a lot of people who work there and I used to go to functions in their social club. This will be good news for the whole town.' Housewife Jennifer Harris, 57, of Queensway, Caerphilly 'If it will bring jobs to the town it will be great. GE has spent a lot of money in the town and brings a lot of work. This should be great news for people just before Christmas.' Pensioner Faye Williams, 70, of Tai Duffryn 'This is great news. A lot of my friends and neighbours work in GE and I think they will be glad. This town needs more employment and this should help.' Housewife Nicola James, 38, of Tawelfryn 'I think it's great news. It should be good for the people who live around GE. A couple of my friends work there and I'm sure they'll be really happy.' Retired railway worker Peter Little, 67, of Ty'r Waun.: 'The biggest contract in plant history':Union bosses today described the contract as the biggest in the firm's history.Amicus convener Danny Coleman said: 'This contract has safeguarded nearly 900 permanent jobs here for up to 15 years. 'And it's also meant that 70 temps - former employees and apprentices released after the problems following 9/11 - have been made permanent. 'That demonstrates the trust and loyalty with management - we've not forgotten anyone.' The union's regional officer Brian Godesll said: 'We see it as an endorsement from firms like BA of a highly skilled, committed workforce working in partnership with GE management.

'It's a pity the Government hasn't shared that view over the same sort of skilled workforce at Dara St Athan which should have secured their future.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 9, 2005
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