THE MAKER of the world's biggest jet aircraft has chosen a contractor to build a £40 million factory in north Wales.
Airbus, which is owned by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and BAE Systems, is expanding its factory in Broughton to cope with huge numbers of orders for two new types of plane. The firm announced at the end of last month that it had already taken 159 orders, together worth around £14 billion, for the planes.
Amec, Laing O'Rourke and Mowlem were all in the departure lounge for the design and build contract but it is Amec that is flying off with the deal.
One source said: 'Amec has won it but probably nothing will be announced until Amec runs it past Airbus. There's a lot of work there so you don't want to burn your bridges.' The deal is thought be the first in a series of contracts at the Broughton site.
In April Airbus carried out its first test f light of the double-decker A380 in Toulouse, southern France. The plane will carry up to 840 passengers and is scheduled to make its first commercial flight next year. But production is already running about four months behind schedule, meaning the first planes, which are capable of travelling 15,000 km without refuelling, will not be delivered until late 2006.
Airbus also unveiled a mid-sized A350 plane, capable of carrying up to 300 passengers, at the beginning of October to compete with a new plane being launched by US r ival Boeing.
Amec's contract will involve extending the logistics area of the factory but Airbus is keeping tight-lipped over the exact details of the work. A spokeswoman would only say: 'The factory is the size of a small town and unless a development is over £300 million I don't really notice.' Flintshire County Council has received an application from Airbus for a two-storey extension on either side of its off ice services and suppor t building.
Work is expected to start by early next year.