Airbus today staged an official grand opening for the A320 family final assembly line and delivery centre in Mobile, Alabama, with executives touting the company’s growing stature as a US manufacturer.
“Airbus is now truly an American manufacturer,” says Airbus president and chief executive Fabrice Bregier, addressing an audience of local and state dignitiaries, employees and press gathered inside the “Hangar 9” final assembly hall.
Though the grand opening was staged on 14 September, the site has been operational for several months, with the first A321 scheduled for delivery to JetBlue Airways in the second quarter sitting at the wing-to-body join position.
Airbus first confirmed plans to build the complex in Mobile in July 2012. The new site’s initial capacity to build four A320 family aircraft per month contributes to Airbus’ planned ramp-up to 50 monthly aircraft deliveries systemwide by the end of 2017. It also allows Airbus to deliver A320 family aircraft directly to customers in North America, which represents along with China the company’s largest narrowbody market over the next 20 years.
Perhaps more importantly, the Mobile site dramatically enlarges Airbus’ corporate presence in the USA, a key part of the company’s global growth strategy. The company already has a significant industrial presence here, with its helicopter division assembling commercial and military aircraft in Columbus, Mississippi, a steadily growing defence and space operation.
But delivering four aircraft per month from a US factory, even if the more labour-intensive major component assemblies are shipped in from Europe, is a highly visible reminder of the company’s growing presence in North American airline fleets.
Signifying the company’s emerging political clout, the grand opening was attended by Alabama’s governor, a senator and at least two local congressman, along with a host of local political and economic development officials.
The company has so far hired about 260 employees to staff the site, with dozens more jobs likely as deliveries ramp up to four per month.
Source: Cirium Dashboard