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Economy Minister Diane Dodds has called for an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the aerospace industry.

Speaking after Thompson Aero Seating (TAS) announced 180 redundancies, the Minister said: “This news is very upsetting to those working for the company, and their families. Thompson Aero Seating is a leading light in innovation and manufacturing but the pressures of the pandemic and its impact on global travel have been a challenge and has resulted in the company having to make this difficult decision.

“I have long warned that the aerospace industry would be the slowest to recover from the pandemic. That is why I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to seek a targeted extension of the furlough scheme for this sector. I have also raised the importance of this support with the Minister for Business and Industry.

“I recognise that the aerospace industry is very important to the Northern Ireland economy. Indeed, in the last 12 months, Invest NI has offered just under £10m in financial assistance to support skills, research and development in the sector’s long term future.

“However, the aerospace sector needs short-term assistance from our national government because it relies so heavily on the global travel industry, which will be one of the last areas of our economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic. The extension of the furlough scheme is vital.”

The Minister added that her department’s Careers Service is available to support those impacted by offering free professional and impartial careers information, advice and guidance tailored to individual needs and helping people to explore future training and employment opportunities.