July 02, 2012
Airbus in 2015 will open a final assembly line (FAL) in the U.S. dedicated to producing A320 family aircraft.
The facility will be located in Mobile, Ala., where the European manufacturer already has an engineering base.
“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” President and CEO Fabrice Bregier says.
The move is part of EADS’ broader strategy to internationalize its business and become less dependent on the strong euro. Airbus also intends to increase its market share in the U.S. In the narrowbody segment, its market share is about 20% in the U.S., compared with more than 50% globally. Airbus says the U.S. is the single largest narrowbody market and believes about 4,600 aircraft in that category will be sold there in the next 20 years.
Airbus last year proposed to build a final assembly line in Mobile as part of its efforts to win the U.S. Air Force’s tanker contest. Under that plan, the Mobile plant also would have assembled A330 freighters; however, that plan fell apart when Boeing won the competition.
The A320 family is currently built in Toulouse, France; Hamburg; and Tianjin, China. Airbus is on track to bring the total monthly production rate up to 42 by October and to 44 by 2018. About three of the 42 aircraft are built in Tianjin.
According to Airbus, construction of the Mobile line will start in 2013. Aircraft assembly in Mobile is scheduled to begin in 2015, with the first jets to be delivered in 2016. Airbus plans to ramp up production to 40-50 A320 family aircraft annually by 2018.
Airbus says it will create about 1,000 jobs for the Mobile line.
The Mobile production rate would be roughly equivalent to Tianjin’s. The Chinese line is approaching a rate of four aircraft a month by the end of this year. Provided overall production rates remain unchanged, that would leave about 36 a month for Toulouse and Hamburg.