MORE than 40 workers have been made redundant at a North-East engineering company which supplies parts for the new Airbus model.

Harkers Engineering, in Stockton, announced in June that it was considering redundancies because of a lack of orders in its turbines division.

Its aviation division, which employs about 30 staff and was responsible for the Airbus work, is believed to be buoyant.

The company was keen to stress that it would continue its successful manufacturing and assembly operations for the aerospace and defence sectors.

The affected staff were given 12 weeks' notice or redundancy, and have been laid off in stages, with some due to go today.

At its peak in 2003, the firm, which supplies components to Airbus, Rolls Royce and GE, employed 250 staff, but the latest job losses will take the figure to about 50. The job losses are the third round of redundancies in two years.

Harkers is laying off the staff after deciding to axe production of land-based gas turbine casings, which it has supplied to major power companies - including GE - for the past 20 years.

The company, which supplies around the world, was once a major supplier for the power industry but the demand and market has declined - partly because of low-cost competition.

But its aerospace division remains successful after it helped put together the Airbus 380 model, which is due to become the biggest commercial carrier in the world.

The components deal with Airbus is believed to be worth about £5.4m a year, and represents more than a tenth of the company's output.

Harkers was among 400 companies in the UK involved in the massive civil aviation project.

It created a component for the wing into which the landing gear goes.

Should the Airbus A380 go into passenger service in summer next year, as expected, the firm's aviation section should continue to benefit from an extended orderbook.

Across the UK, the airbus project has helped to secure 22,000 jobs with more than £500m of Government investment.

The aerospace industry is bucking the downturn in manufacturing and in the North-East generally, recruitment levels are believed to be strong.

Harkers director Peter Harker, who was managing director until recently, said some staff had left early because they had found jobs.

Skilled technicians are in demand in the Tees Valley so it is hoped the workers will be able to find new jobs.