British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday hailed a multi-billion-pound deal by Airbus and Rolls-Royce to supply new aircraft to Air India as a landmark moment for the country’s aerospace sector and reiterated his commitment to continue building ties with India.
The agreement, which involves the Tata Group-owned Indian carrier buying 250 jets, was announced by the three companies at the ongoing Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru.
The UK government said the pact will create highly skilled jobs in Wales and Derbyshire, eastern England, helping boost exports and the economy.
“This landmark deal between Air India, Airbus and Rolls-Royce demonstrates that sky is the limit for the UK’s thriving aerospace sector,” Sunak said.
“It will create better-paying jobs and new opportunities in manufacturing hubs from Derby to Wales, so we can grow the economy and support our agenda to level up – helping to deliver on my five priorities for the country. The UK is already a top investment destination, and by building trade ties with growing economic powers like India we will ensure UK businesses remain at the forefront of global growth and innovation,” he said.
According to Downing Street, a significant portion of the manufacturing process for the new aircraft is expected to take place in the UK.
The wings will be designed at Filton and assembled at Broughton, which is expected to bring an additional 450 manufacturing jobs and more than GBP 100 million of investment to Wales.
“This is a significant win for the UK’s world-leading aerospace sector and one which will help secure thousands of highly skilled jobs across the country and drive economic growth,” said UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.
“It’s a shot in the arm for UK exports as we aim to sell GBP 1 trillion of goods and services a year to the world by the end of the decade. We’re currently negotiating a trade deal with India which could boost trade by up to GBP 28 billion a year by 2035. Export wins like this are another big step to our nations forming a closer trading relationship,” she said.
The large A350 aircraft being supplied are exclusively powered by Rolls-Royce XWB engines, which are assembled and tested in Derby, England.
“India is a major economic power, projected to be the world’s third largest economy with a quarter of a billion middle class consumers by 2050. We are currently negotiating a free trade agreement that would boost our GBP 29.6 billion trading relationship,” Downing Street said.
Official figures for 2021 show that the UK’s aerospace sector is a leading contributor to the country's economy, adding GBP 10.6 billion in value to the UK economy, exporting 70 per cent of its domestic output and directly employing 111,000 high-skilled people