The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

July 2, 2012

Airbus to build first US plane-making factory

LOS ANGELES — European aircraft maker Airbus announced it will establish a manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala. - its first in the U.S.

The company said Monday that it plans to manufacture the A320 aircraft at the new facility, which will begin to be built by next year. Deliveries will begin in 2016, but Airbus expects the facility will produce between 40 and 50 aircraft a year by 2018.

The single-aisle A320 is a direct competitor with Chicago-based Boeing Co.’s 737, the world’s most popular commercial jet.

“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier said in the statement. “The U.S. is the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world.”

The A320 is widely flown by carriers, including Virgin America, Delta Air Lines and US Airways.

Airbus, which is owned by European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., has assembly plants in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China.

The company said the Alabama facility could create as many as 1,000 new jobs. Currently, Airbus’ U.S. facilities currently employ more than 1,000 people all together.

In recent years, Alabama has become a hub of high-level manufacturing. It is home to three major auto factories, including a Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa, a Hyundai factory in Montgomery and a Honda facility in Lincoln.

The factories have created thousands more jobs at technically proficient suppliers that build components and do sub-assemblies for the auto plants.

Other automakers are eyeing a site near Huntsville that the state’s economic development officials are pitching a prime factory location.

 

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