Aviation News

June 27, 2012

Airbus to Build A320 Factory in Alabama

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By: Matt Molnar
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Some new Airbus A320neo jets could be built in Alabama. (Photo by Airbus)
Some new Airbus A320neo jets could be built in Alabama. (Photo by Airbus)
Airbus will announce plans to construct a new factory in Mobile, Ala., as soon as Monday, according to a NY Times report.

Airbus would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build their first manufacturing facility in the United States. The new plant could potentially churn out dozens of new A320 narrowbody airliners annually. Airbus currently builds about 40 A320s per month at factories in France and China.

Despite dominating the fleets of successful American upstarts such as JetBlue Airways and Virgin America, and holding about 50 percent market share worldwide, Airbus still holds only about a 20 percent market share in the hangars of US carriers overall, a fact partially blamed on the “Made in America advantage” enjoyed by Boeing. Airbus hopes that building jets in the US of A will convince some larger carriers, such as Delta and United, to renew their aging fleets with Airbus aircraft.

Much of the planning for a Mobile facility was likely completed years ago, when Airbus-parent EADS planned to build an A330 assembly line there for the US Air Force’s KC-X airborne tanker program. That plan was scrapped when the contract was awarded to Boeing for the KC-46 tanker. Airbus and EADS already maintain a smaller engineering center in Mobile.

It should be noted that while US politicians, particularly in Alabama, are more than thrilled to welcome a huge new job generator to their shores, the Times points out that France’s new socialist government would probably not too keen to the idea of Airbus outsourcing manufacturing jobs overseas. Also potentially rattling to French officials is the fact that Alabama is a right-to-work state, much like South Carolina, where Boeing recently opened a controversial non-union 787 assembly plant.

Airbus would not comment on the reports of the new plant, but has in the past suggested that a US assembly line was something they were interested in.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffscott_us Jeff

    Perhaps Airbus will consider the local enthusiasm and support received from such a facility along the Gulf coast of more value than the confrontational attitude of French unions and their government allies. Believe it are not, there are still millions of Americans who actually want to work!

  • NickSJ

    With Socialists now in charge in France, this move is among the first, but probably not the last, of French companies trying to protect themselves from an anti-business government. Airbus is probably betting that our own socialist president won’t make it past November.

  • RH Hastings

    In regard to this move as a hedge against French socialists we must remember, the French and German governments own or control by proxy “golden” shares in EADS, Airbus’ parent. These EADS controlling share-owners, especially the more activist French, won’t allow something as big as this to occur if they didn’t think it’s in the interest of their respective countries, especially their citizens.