Business

June 29, 2012

Airbus plans factory in Alabama

by Joshua Freed
Associated Press

European plane maker Airbus intends to build its first U.S. plant in Mobile, Alabama, a person with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press.

Airbus will assemble its A320 jet there, according to the person, who requested anonymity because a public announcement has not been made. The A320 is a widely used plane flown by U.S. airlines including Delta and US Airways.

An Alabama plant would enable Airbus to produce planes squarely in the territory of archrival Boeing. It would likely mean lower production costs compared with Airbus’ European A320 production lines in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. The company also makes A320s in China.

The plan was reported June 27 by The New York Times, citing anonymous sources who said that an announcement could come as soon as July 2.

Airbus has said it wants to expand, and that it favors a site in the Southern United States.

“We have made no secret of our hopes to expand our global footprint, including in the U.S., as we have a very strong market here,” said Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn, who added that no decision has been made by the company’s board.

An Alabama state legislator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he’s been asked by state officials to be in Mobile July 2 for an industrial announcement involving an airline project.

Airbus is aiming to boost A320 production. The 150-seat plane is generally used on short- and medium-haul flights, and Airbus makes more of them than any of its other planes. They retail for $88 million, although discounts are common for big customers.

Similarly, Boeing is ramping up production of its 737, which competes directly with the A320. Both companies are putting new, more fuel-efficient engines on the planes, hoping to extend their appeal as airlines try to cut their fuel bills. Airbus made its new-engine decision earlier than Boeing and got a big jump on orders.

The U.S. is a growing market for Airbus. American Airlines ordered 260 A320s last year, and US Airways is buying them as well. However, Delta Air Lines went with Boeing 737s in a 100-jet order in August.

Airbus already has a facility in Mobile that employs about 230 people designing and installing interior items such as seats and cabin equipment for its big planes, the A330, the superjumbo A380, and its planned A350.

It has had its eye on possible U.S. expansion for several years. Mobile is where Airbus parent EADS planned to put its assembly line for an aerial refueling plane it wanted to build for the U.S. Air Force, before losing that long-running duel to Boeing in Feb. 2011. The tanker would have been based on the A330, a larger plane than the A320 slated to be built there now.

In March 2011, then-EADS CEO Louis Gallois said that if or when EADS made a move into the U.S., the South would be its favored destination. At the time he said possible locations were Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

The plan by Airbus executives to open a plant in Alabama comes a few weeks after Fabrice Bregier took over as Airbus CEO on June 1. The CEO of EADS is now Tom Enders, who previously ran Airbus.

Mobile is already home to several aerospace companies, including ST Aerospace Mobile, Goodrich Aerospace and Star Aviation, and much of the business is based at the 1,650-acre Brookley Aeroplex.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NG-people2

Northrop Grumman names VP, mission assurance for Electronic Systems sector

Northrop Grumman has appointed Sonal B. Deshpande vice president of mission assurance for the company’s Linthicum-based Electronic Systems sector. In this position, Deshpande is responsible for mission assurance across th...
 
 
sikorsky-raider

Sikorsky S-97 Raider helicopter achieves successful first flight

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary, announced May 22 the successful first flight of the S-97 Raider™ helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination...
 
 
NG-people

Northrop Grumman appoints VP, program manager ISR division

Northrop Grumman announced it has appointed Steve Lunny, vice president and program manager for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance division within the company’s Information Systems sector. Lunny will report...
 

 

HELLADS laser completes development

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced May 21 that the High-Energy Liquid Laser completed the U.S. government acceptance test procedure and is now being shipped to the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. At WSMR, the laser will undergo an extensive series of live fire tests against a number of military targets.  GAASI is a leading...
 
 
boeing-transaero

Boeing delivers Transaero’s first Next-Generation 737-800

Boeing May 22 delivered Transaero’s first Next-Generation 737-800. The airplane, sporting a new livery, arrived at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Boeing May 22 delivered Transaero’s first Next-Generation 737-800. The airpla...
 
 
Boeing photograph

Boeing-upgraded French AWACS take flight

Boeing photograph A French AWACS aircraft patrols the skies as part of a routine mission. The French AWACS fleet is in the midst of the Mid-Life Upgrade that modernizes the capabilities on board. Initial operating capability of...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>