Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff moved into the black last week for the first time since 1991 and also won a £5m contract to refit P&O’s cruise liner Arcadia.
A pre-tax profit of £3m was reported for 1996, compared with a £6.8m loss in 1995. The yard recorded an operating profit – £2.1m – for the first time in 20 years. This compared with a 1995 operating loss of £9.9m.
The Arcadia refit will begin in November and be completed by Christmas.
But the impovement in Harland & Wolff’s fortunes has not altered the likelihood of up to 290 redundancies in the yard’s permanent workforce of 1,730.
The possibility of layoffs was announced last month and talks about `mitigating’ their effects are continuing with unions.
The layoffs were prompted by the approaching end of Harland & Wolff’s contract on the BP floating production system Schiehallion. The yard is concentrating on winning offshore construction contracts.