European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has confirmed it is to build new A320 narrowbody planes in its biggest competitor’s back-yard – America.
Airbus’ $600 million investment into its first-ever U.S. factory – in Mobile, Alabama – is sure to ruffle the feathers of Boeing, which has long had a monopoly on aircraft sales across its home turf.
Ft.com writes that Airbus’ aim is to score more U.S. orders, which it hopes it can do by hiring 1,000 locals for its overseas plant.
John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer for customers, confirmed that the company will begin making the A320s from 2015 and says that production will ramp up to around four jets a month from 2018. The aim is to increase the company’s share of narrowbody aircraft orders from 20 per cent to 50 per cent.
Plane finder buffs will be all-too-aware that the U.S. market is of great importance to the future of aviation companies. It is forecast to be the second most valuable market behind China.
“I haven’t found an airline CEO yet in the U.S. who thought building airplanes there was a bad idea,” Leahy told Reuters.com.
Leahy went on to say that potential Airbus customers have previously had to justify their purchases to the upper echelons of American politics as to why they should invest in an airline that was not born on native soil.
“Virtually everyone has said this is game-changing and fantastic and takes a lot of pressure off them, because all things being equal, if you buy the Airbus airplane you have got to explain to your congressman and politicians and unions.
“Well now you can say ‘Hey, I just bought the plane from Alabama,’” he said.