With enough real estate under lease to expand at will, a locally-recruited workforce garnering high praise from veteran European employees and a $600 million final assembly line set to debut as the most efficient in the world, Airbus confirmed Sunday an unyielding commitment to Mobile and the U.S. aircraft market. “Mobile is our industrial home in the United States … It is not likely at all that we would try to find some other state to go to,” Allan McArtor, chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc., said.
Meanwhile, Airbus Americas President Barry Eccleston touted repeatedly the integral role its Mobile operations will play in expanding the plane maker’s global market share to meet escalating demand for single-aisle aircraft, and Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said the Toulouse, France-based aircraft manufacturer does not just feel welcome in Mobile but “at home.”
The comments were delivered a few hours after media from across the globe were allowed sneak-peak, guided tours of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility, debuting officially at 10 a.m. Monday at an invitation-only ceremony.
The final assembly line – which actually began production quietly on its first two planes a few weeks ago at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley – will focus solely on the commercial jetmaker’s popular A320 family of aircraft.
Airbus Americas spokeswoman Kristi Tucker confirmed the first of the two A321s under construction will take its first flight in the first quarter of 2016 and is slated for delivery to Jet Blue in the second quarter of 2016. The second A321 glimpsed Sunday in the sprawling final assembly hangar will be delivered to American Airways at a later date.