MOBILE, Alabama — With customer deliveries of Alabama-made Airbus A320 Family aircraft set to begin in 2016, the European manufacturer is counting on its new production facility at Mobile Aeroplex to expand its presence in the world’s largest aviation market, according to Airbus Group Chairman Allan McArtor.
“We want to be here permanently and understood to be a U.S. citizen. That’s what Mobile can do for us,” McArtor told CCTV America in an interview for a video segment that examined why Airbus selected Alabama for its $600 million A320 Family assembly line project.
CCTV America is part of CCTV News, a global English-language news channel produced by China Central Television, the world’s largest broadcaster with a reach of more than 1.2 billion people. The English channel can be seen in more than 85 million homes across more than 100 countries and territories.
McArtor told CCTV America reporter Jessica Stone that Airbus’ production center in Alabama will help it meet surging demand for single-aisle passenger jets like the A320 and its siblings. He said the company has around eight years worth of orders for the aircraft on its books. Over the next 20 years, he added, the U.S. market will require 4,600 single-aisle aircraft, based on projections.
“Airbus wants to fill that need with aircraft stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” Stone said in her Dec. 5 report.
ALABAMA ADVANTAGES FOR AIRBUS
For Airbus, the Alabama facility follows a move into China, where the company opened an A320 Family assembly line in Tianjin in 2008 to serve the world’s fastest growing aviation market. The Mobile Aeroplex production center will have 1,000 workers once full production is reached. The facility will produce four aircraft per month, spread among A319, A320 and A321 versions.
Because Airbus planned to ship aircraft components into its first U.S. production facility, the presence of a deep-water port in Mobile was a key reason Alabama was selected for the project, Stone said. Alabama also delivered on more than $150 million in incentives, which included a new $7 million training center at Mobile Aeroplex for Airbus workers that is operated by AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“What do companies see in the state of Alabama that makes it an attractive place to set up shop?” Stone said in her report. “Well, a few things — low electricity rates, low taxes and virtually no unions.”
What does the future hold for Airbus’ Alabama facility? McArtor, recalling that in 2008 that Airbus lost out on a refueling tanker contract with the U.S. Air Force, told Stone he still hopes to win a portion of the tanker business. Airbus has made no secret of pursuing a U.S. military work.
“It’s conceivable, one day, we may do tanker conversions,” added Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimson.
McArtor previously wrote an article on why Airbus selected Alabama for its A320 Family assembly line. You can read it here.