|Airbus President & CEO Fabrice Brégier (left) is joined by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley amid confetti and streamers after announcing the decision to create an A320 family final assembly line at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex. (Photo/Courtesy of Airbus)|
Published July 11, 2012
MOBILE, Ala. — Airbus plans to invest $600 million in an Alabama manufacturing facility to assemble and deliver the A320 family of single-aisle aircraft.
The plant at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile will be Airbus’ first U.S.-based production facility and create 1,000 direct jobs.
Airbus stressed that the assembly line is part of its strategy to enhance the company’s global competitiveness by meeting the needs of customers in the United States and elsewhere.
Airbus’ first U.S.-based production facility, which will build A320 jetliners at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., beginning in 2015, will produce between 40 and 50 aircraft annually by 2018. (Graphic courtesy of Airbus)
In addition, having an assembly facility on U.S. soil could help Airbus’ parent, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., land Pentagon contracts.
Based in Toulouse, France, EADS has lost three separate bids over the past several years for a $35 billion contract to build fuel tankers for the U.S. Air Force. Instead, the Defense Department awarded the deal to Boeing after the company challenged the Airbus bid.
Construction of the assembly line at Mobile will begin in the summer of 2013, and Airbus expects to start building planes in 2015. The first deliveries from the Mobile facility should begin in early 2016. Airbus expects the facility will produce 40 to 50 aircraft per year by 2018.
“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said. “The U.S. is the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world — with a projected need for 4,600 aircraft over the next 20 years — and this assembly line brings us closer to our customers. Mobile is now becoming part of Airbus’ global production network, joining our successful and growing assembly lines in Hamburg, Toulouse and Tianjin.”
Airbus is the largest export customer for the U.S. aerospace industry. Since 1990, the company has spent $127 billion with U.S. suppliers — $12 billion in 2011. Airbus has suppliers in more than 40 states. The company said its expenditures in the U.S. support more than 210,000 American jobs.
One supplier is GE Aviation, which produces high-pressure turbine blades at its Greenville, S.C., facility for commercial aircraft engines for Boeing and Airbus. The company employs 200 people in Greenville.
Airbus’ choice of Mobile is the latest economic development announcement in the South that involves overseas investment. Over the past 10 years, 39% of all direct foreign investment in the United States has been aimed at the South, according to Michael Randle, editor and publisher of Southern Business & Development.