Airbus hopes that Alabama is the new China
Airbus A320 being built in Tianjin, China
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Airbus, the European plane maker, plans to build its first assembly line in the United States in Mobile, Alabama, in an aggressive foray into the world’s largest market for single-aisle airplanes…The plan calls for an investment of several hundred million dollars in a plant on Boeing’s home turf that could eventually assemble dozens of Airbus’s popular 150-seat A320 jets each year.
In taking the plunge into the United States, Airbus is betting that American airlines, many of which have large fleets of aging jets, will be enticed to consider an A320 that was “made in America” over Boeing’s competing 737. By assembling the planes with nonunion American workers, and in using dollars, Airbus also stands to reduce production costs…
But the move to open an American factory could raise eyebrows in European capitals and among labor unions — particularly in France, where the new Socialist government of President François Hollande has said it will seek to punish companies that move jobs overseas with tax penalties and with the withdrawal of certain state subsidies. Airbus opened its first non-European assembly line in China four years ago…
Anyone willing to bet that Americans think outsourcing is OK if we’re playing the China role and taking jobs away from workers in France. Ain’t solidarity special?
It was not immediately clear when Airbus expected the plant to open or how many planes it would initially produce. Its plant in Tianjin, China, assembles three planes a month, 8 percent of Airbus’s global output of single-aisle planes…An agreement to build an assembly line in Mobile would be the culmination of a seven-year on-again, off-again courtship between Alabama officials and Airbus’s parent company, European Aeronautic Defense and Space.
An earlier move into the United States yielded significant payoffs for the company. The American market share of EADS’s helicopter division, Eurocopter, doubled to around 50 percent after the company opened an assembly line in 2004 in Columbus, Miss., for its UH-72 Lakota and A-Star choppers.
I wonder how many folks were laid-off at Bell, Boeing and Sikorsky as part of all that growth and progress in Columbus, Mississippi.