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Airbus unveils new facility as production of A220 planes looks to get off the ground

Airbus Canada unveils its new facility in Mirabel Quebec. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

Quebecers will have to be patient before their investment in the A220 aircraft, the former CSeries, shows a return.

The value on paper of the A220 program does not reflect its economic potential, assures the minister of the economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who attended a tour Tuesday highlighting the expansion of Airbus Canada facilities in Mirabel.

Read more: Quebec vows to overhaul its beleaguered health-care system by 2025

Airbus officials say they will be able to buy out the 25 per cent stake from the Quebec government in 2030.

By then, Airbus will have accelerated its production rate to 14 aircraft per month by 2025 or 2026. The facility’s current rate is six aircraft.

“I have great confidence that the value of the investment during the sale will be greater than all the money invested,” said Fitzgibbon.

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Before the government added US$300 million to the adventure last February, Investissement Québec estimated that the value of the program was nil as of March 31, 2021, according to the most recent estimates.

In 2016, the Couillard government invested the equivalent of $1.3 billion, bringing the total investment to nearly $1.68 billion.

However, this theoretical value is governed by accounting rules and does not take into account the economic value of the program once Airbus production has reached full cruising speed by mid-decade.

“The order book is very full,” the minister said. “Now you have to deliver them, you have to execute them, the prices have to come down.”

Read more: Air Canada adding 26 new extra long range Airbus A321neo aircraft to its fleet

Airbus Canada president and CEO Benoît Schultz said civil aviation is a “fairly long cycle” industry.

“We develop an airplane, it takes time. It takes almost 10 years to have an aircraft on the market at maturity. It takes a bit of time to get it up to speed, it takes a few years to get it to its production rate and from there we have a product that delivers the results we expect,” Schultz said.

The new facility in Mirabel, according to Airbus Canada, was the first of its kind outside of Europe and was commissioned in the Laurentians at the beginning of the year.

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The zone is intended for the assembly of sub-components of the A220 and is seen as an important step in the acceleration of the production rate.

— with Files from Brayden Jagger Haines

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