Airbus Marks Five Years in Mobile

Airbus A220 jets move toward completion at the Mobile Final Assembly Line. Photo by Brad McPherson

Five years to the day after Airbus began work on its first A321 aircraft in Mobile, the firm today is celebrating its growth and its impact on the Mobile community.

That first aircraft was delivered to JetBlue Airways, and since then the firm has delivered 186 A320-family planes to eight airlines. Those planes have carried some 60 million passengers for some 500 million miles.

In the meantime, Airbus has added a second final assembly line in Mobile to make the smaller A220 jets.

U.S. production has allowed Airbus to increase its market share here from 40%, before it started U.S. production, to 70%, said Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Mobile facility.

Total employment has grown from 250 in 2015 to 1,000 today, and total facilities investment has topped $1 billion, company officials say, with another $24 million spent on training. The firm has created a facts-and-figures flipbook, which is available here.

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“When we announced our intent to build A320 family aircraft in the United States and to locate that facility in Mobile, Alabama, we also stated our intent to be a good neighbor, to create jobs and opportunities and to help strengthen the U.S. aerospace industry. Five years later, we have become a major economic driver in creating an aerospace hub on the Gulf Coast,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, president and CEO of Airbus Americas Inc.

The University of South Alabama’s Center for Real Estate & Economic Development calculates the firm’s impact in Mobile and Baldwin counties at $1.1 billion supporting 12,000 jobs, with an impact of $1.2 billion and 15,000 jobs in the entire state.

In addition, the firm identifies more than 40 charitable and civic causes that it has supported since opening here.

Just before the coronavirus-caused drop in air travel, Airbus Mobile was poised to turn out seven of the bigger A320-family planes and four of the A220 planes each month. That production rate has slowed drastically, but work continues and employment has held steady at 1,000.

The firm has also opened a second delivery facility, where airlines come to pick up their new planes. The facility is named for Tom Enders, who long urged the European firm to build planes in Mobile. A new hangar is also under construction on site.

Airbus has had a presence in Mobile since 2005, when it opened a C212 and CN235 support unit at Mobile Regional Airport. The Airbus engineering center, which now supports most commercial aircraft products, opened in 2007. The Final Assembly Line, the first such Airbus facility in the U.S., opened in 2015.

In 2019, Airbus outsold its U.S.-based rival Boeing for the first time in the commercial aircraft market.

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