European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is laying down the gauntlet to Boeing with a direct investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to start making single-aisle Airbus planes at its first manufacturing facility in the U.S.in Mobile, Alabama.
The U.S. is the world’s biggest market for single-aisle planes, and the market is currently controlled by Boeing. Airbus only has a 20 percent share in the American market, while both companies have an equal share of the global market.
Airbus has a better chance of selling planes in America if it can make the planes in the south with non-union labor. But what’s good for the Airbus and its parent company European Aeronautic Defense and Space (EADS) may not necessarily be good for European countries like France, Germany and Spain that have a stake in it.
Airbus already has a significant presence in Mobile, Alabama. The 30,000 sq ft facility houses Airbus Military North America’s maintenance, repair and overhaul delivery center at the Mobile Regional Airport. The Airbus Americas engineering facility was opened in Feb 2007 in Mobile. Their design and engineering offices in Wichita, Kansas were opened 10 years ago.
Alabama officials have been trying since 2005 to get Airbus to open up a manufacturing plant in Mobile. As per comments made by EADS officials last year, the south would be their first choice for a U.S. manufacturing facility for Airbus. They had Alabama, Texas and Mississippi on their shortlist.
Back in 2005, EADS was willing to invest $600 million for building its large A330 aircraft in the US if it got the much-maligned $35 billion USAF refueling tanker contract. After a long delay and Congressional investigations, the contract was finally given to Boeing last year.
Airbus apparently has plans to start producing at least 150 A-320 single-aisle jets per year in its new Mobile, Alabama plant. But it might take 3-4 years for the plant to become operational. More details and an official announcement will be made early next week.