By George Egeh, Correspondent (Ghana)

The A220 was formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries before Airbus acquired a majority stake in the project.

Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations have been sold to the US firm Spirit AeroSystems in a deal worth nearly £1bn.

The Canadian firm put the factories up for sale in May as part of a re-organisation of its business.

The aerospace manufacturer employs about 3,600 people in Northern Ireland.

Spirit, which is based in Kansas, is a major supplier to Airbus and Boeing. Earlier this year the company said it wanted to do more work for Airbus.

Buying Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operation is part of that strategy.

The wings for the Airbus A220 are made at Bombardier Belfast’s plant and it also supplies other Airbus parts, particularly engine covers.

Spirit is also buying a Bombardier factory is Morocco and a repair facility in the US.

Analysis: A strategic purchase for Spirit

The Bombardier workforce in Northern Ireland has suffered years of cuts and uncertainty.

At one point the Canadian firm was on the brink of insolvency.

A new owner for the Belfast operations should bring some stability for the workforce and a long-term focus for the business.

This is a strategic purchase for Spirit – it sees Belfast as a key part of its plan to do more work with Airbus.

The trade unions are happy that the business has gone to a trade buyer rather than a private equity fund.

The deal – in which Spirit is paying $500m and taking on $700m of liabilities, including pension commitments – is expected to close in the first half 2020.

Michael Ryan, Bombardier’s chief operating officer of aerostructures, said employees would be updated about how it impacts them in due course.

He added: “We are delighted that Spirit, a global, tier-one aerostructure manufacturer and supplier, has recognised our unique offering and growth potential.”

ADS, the UK trade organisation representing the aerospace industry, said: “With the future of the operations assured, the exceptional workforce at the Belfast facility will now be able to continue to use their world-class expertise and skills as an integral part of the aerospace industry.