The UK department for international trade (DIT) has backed an US$18.7mn GE Aviation contract for engine upgrade work for Atlas Air.

The contract, which is guaranteed by the government’s export credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF), will see GE upgrade engines for the cargo and charter airline. Work will be carried out in the company’s Prestwick workshop in Scotland. GE will supply and install energy efficient performance improvement programme (PIP) kits to three engines in the Atlas Air fleet.

This initial contract has led to a second multi-million-dollar agreement for UKEF to finance upgrades of three more engines in coming months. The exact amount of the second deal and when the work is likely to commence is yet to be finalised, a UKEF spokesperson tells GTR.

International trade minister for the DIT, Mark Garnier, says: “Our civil aerospace industry is world-leading and the DIT is committed to doing all it can to boost exports and support UK businesses in this sector – including through UKEF where this deal will help do just that, as well as protecting jobs in Scotland.”

UKEF, Atlas Air and GE may extend the programme, which could see further support worth millions of dollars for the future supply and installation of PIP kits to 33 more of Atlas Air’s engines over the next four years.

In 2016, the UK aerospace industry generated revenues of £32bn with £28bn of production exported.