Airbus boosts production rate at Alabama assembly line

Jan 9, 2020

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European plane manufacturer Airbus said it will boost production at its new assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama.

The airframer said it will produce seven A320s per month at the plant by the end of 2021, up from the current monthly rate of five.

“This increase in commercial aircraft production in Mobile is an exciting expansion of our significant industrial investment in the U.S., and it continues Airbus’ positive contribution to American aerospace,” Jeffrey Knittel, Airbus Americas’ CEO said in a Thursday statement announcing the increase.

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According to the manufacturer, the increased production rate, coupled with recruiting for the A220 manufacturing team there, will result in an additional 275 jobs in Mobile in the next year.

Airbus had long been the second-largest commercial airplane maker in the world, behind U.S. giant Boeing. But, with the ongoing grounding of Boeings 737 MAX fleet, the European company surpassed Boeing to claim the title for 2019.

Airbus’ Mobile facility opened in 2015, giving the European manufacturer the ability to assemble its A320 family jets in the U.S. as the European company looked to make inroads in the American market against the presence of homegrown giant Boeing. Airbus’ A220 assembly line in Mobile began operations over the summer, and the first U.S.-built version of the plane should be delivered to Delta in the third quarter of this year, according to Airbus.

Some industry analysts however, see the move as a way for Airbus to add to its political capital in the U.S., and as vehicle to avoid tariffs meant to hinder foreign plane makers in the American market.

“There are ways to defend yourself against antiglobaliztion measures, and this is one of them,” said Richard Aboulafia, a vice president of analysis focusing on aviation at Teal Group.

Featured photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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