Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
The Aerospace Sector in Wales is hugely significant, with over 22,000 people employed within it and companies such as EADS, comprising Airbus in the UK and Cassidian, BAE Systems, Finmeccanica, General Dynamics, General Electric and Raytheon all adding to a sector that generates sales of well over $5billion per year.
The Paris Air Show is a key event in the aerospace calendar, alternating with Farnborough annually; it vies to be the premier aerospace event in Europe and one that every aerospace company in the UK will attend. It was important therefore that the Welsh Government had a strong presence. This year the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (AM&M) sector team hosted a Welsh Government stand in partnership with the Aerospace Wales Forum. A trade mission of five Welsh companies also had a presence on the stand.
Wales has two major aerospace clusters, the North East, including Deeside, and the South East including Cardiff, St Athan and Nantgarw. It has the unique air corridor for unmanned aerial vehicles from ParcAberporth offering the only civil licensed airfield in the UK approved for flying over sea and land.
Jeff Cuthbert, the then Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology attended the Air Show on my behalf on Tuesday 18 June 2013. Accompanied by officials, he undertook an itinerary of high level meetings with key companies, including; Airbus, Thales, Lockheed Martin, Triumph and Cytec as well as meetings with representatives from UKTI, BIS and Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS). He held informal meetings discussing the Aerospace Growth Partnership and Aerospace Technology Institute with senior representatives from ADS. He also had a discussion with the UK Government’s Minister for Business and Enterprise highlighting the importance of the sector to Wales.
The Deputy Minister enjoyed frank and open discussions with each of the companies he met. He has written to thank all companies for hosting meetings during his visit and has given assurances of Welsh Government support which I will ensure are followed up.
The Welsh companies who joined the Welsh Government on the stand: Tritech, Electroimpact; Faun Trackway; Denis Ferranti and DNA - Agile, all reported the show to be a positive experience which enabled meetings with current and prospective clients. The show further ensured that their brand awareness is maintained and relationships continue to develop.
Tritech in particular reported over 78 visits to their stand of which 14 are of interest and may lead to new customers. They secured an order worth £2.652m at the Air Show.
My officials also attended appointments with existing Welsh businesses who have overseas parents. These meetings have identified potential projects for Wales equating to 200 new jobs and private sector investment of £49.6m. Discussions are confidential at this stage and I will update Members further when more information can be released.
The Welsh Government presence at the Paris Air Show reinforces my view that we must be represented at the highest level at key sector events worldwide. I will continue to extol the strength and importance of this vital sector in terms of high technology jobs, revenue and our place within this global market.