06 February 2008
The Ministry of Defence has finalised the sell off of two Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) sites.
The £17m deal will see bases in Hampshire and Perthshire sold to the Canadian company, Vector Aerospace. The company has guaranteed the jobs of all the workers at the facilities. The depots repair transport helicopters, many of which are than sent on to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Minister for the armed forces, Bob Ainsworth welcomed the sale, telling the Commons that the “sale to Vector Aerospace not only offers the opportunity for investment and growth but also provides us with operational certainty on a vitally important maintenance service that has every chance of improving under new ownership.”
He said that the government had to secure the best long term decision for defence. Ainsworth told the Commons that privatisation would help to further develop the helicopter repair service and allow the MoD to further implement “through life” service with private partners.
DARA’ privatisation brings to an end a bitter dispute between the MoD and the unions and Scottish Executive. In recent days SNP MSPs have called the sell off discussions a disgrace and a “betrayal.”
Union leaders however have not ruled out strike action. Last night officials from Unite expressed outrage that Vector Aerospace, a company with little experience in military contracts, was taking over the facilities. One official told The Herald that it would cost jobs and diminish Britain’s operational capability abroad.