News Column

Airbus Starts Construction on First US Factory

April 8, 2013

European-based Airbus broke ground Monday on its first assembly plant in the US with a vow to cut into Boeing's dominance in the world's largest aircraft market.

Community leaders in the Gulf Coast city of Mobile, Alabama gathered under a large tent with an Airbus A320 parked right outside, according to a podcast of the event.

In addition to attending in person, Airbus chief Fabrice Bregier delivered pre-recorded remarks on the company's website - accented with the sound of the rock classic Sweet Home Alabama, the 1974 hit by Lynyrd Skynryd.

Airbus currently has only 17 to 20 per cent of the US market, where planes dominate transport over the country's wide stretches.

Bregier cited Airbus success in China, where it now commands 50 per cent market share after building its first factory there. He said Airbus aims to get as close as possible to 50 percent of the US market, estimated at 5,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.

"The potential is great," Bergier said.

The Alabama plant will generate 1,000 new US jobs - and about 4,000 jobs in Europe producing the parts that will be shipped for assembly to Mobile, Bregier said.

The 600-million-dollar factory will begin producing Airbus' successful mid-distance A320 passenger jets by 2015.

The plant opening comes as Boeing struggles against lithium-ion battery problems involving overheating and short-circuiting problems in its newest aircraft, the Dreamliner. The grounding of the 49 Dreamliners in use around the world was ordered in January after a battery caught fire and another melted on the plane.

Alabama is a right-to-work state, meaning labour unions cannot force workers to join or pay union dues.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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