Airbus targets first half of 2015 Mobile opening

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Airbus plans to begin operations on its new A320 family final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, in the "late first half" of 2015, says executive Barry Eccleston.

Delivery of the first aircraft, which will be an A320 for JetBlue Airways, is on schedule for early 2016, says the president and chief executive of Airbus Americas on the sidelines of the delivery ceremony for American Airlines' first A319 in Hamburg today.

Airbus broke ground on the final assembly line in April at Brookley Field, a regional airport adjacent to downtown Mobile.

Early construction and hiring at the plant are on schedule and "coming along fine", says Eccleston.

Initially only A320s will be assembled in Mobile but production will "quickly move" to A321s to fulfil Airbus' orderbook for the type in North America, he adds.

American, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and US Airways have at least 233 outstanding orders for current generation and new engine option (neo) A321s, based on Airbus' orders and deliveries for June.

The Mobile factory will be the fourth final assembly line support A320 family aircraft, including the re-engined A320neo. Airbus plans to build aircraft in Mobile at a rate four per month beginning in 2018, and could increase output to as much as eight eventually.