Airbus announced today that, as part of its plan to produce 63 A320 Family aircraft per month in 2021, the company will expand its industrial footprint in the U.S. by increasing the production rate of A320 family aircraft at its Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile to seven per month by the beginning of next year. This increase, and continued recruiting for the A220 manufacturing team, will result in a further 275 jobs added at the Alabama-based facility over the next year. The company will also invest another $40 million through construction of an additional support hangar on the site, bringing its total investment to more than $1 billion in the Gulf Coast city.
The partnership between Airbus and the Gulf Coast community began 15 years ago this year, and it has grown exponentially over the past decade and a half. Airbus Defense & Space was established in 2005 in Mobile to support operators of the C212 and CN235 tactical transports with complete maintenance, repair and overhaul services; extensive material services; professional engineering; and technical support. In 2015, it was named as the company’s worldwide support center for C212 aircraft. Today, 70 Airbus professionals are employed at the Mobile Regional Airport operation. Airbus opened an Engineering center in Mobile in 2007. Exceeding Airbus’ original commitment for 150 engineers, this facility is now home to 220 engineers and support staff. The center’s initial focus on cabin engineering and A350 XWB design work has expanded to include design, engineering and support of nearly all of Airbus’ commercial aircraft products. In 2015, Mobile became home to Airbus’ first U.S.-based commercial aircraft manufacturing facility. Celebrating its fifth year of production, this facility has grown from an initial workforce of around 250 producing A320 Family aircraft to more than 1,000 building A220 and A320 Family aircraft by the end of 2019. By the end of 2020 that number will be around 1,300.
This announcement by Airbus comes days before the comment period ends for proposed new tariffs by the Trump Administration ion Airbus and European imports as a result of of the long running trade dispute between Boeing and Airbus. In October, Airbus was facing tariffs on imports to the Mobile Final Assembly Line but was exempted at the last minute after work by the Alabama Congressional delegation. This news also comes after it was announced that Airbus became the world’s largest airplane manufacturer in 2019 after struggles at Boeing with the 737 Max grounding and production issues with the 787 Dreamliner and delays with the 777x program.
Reaction from local officials was positive as expected. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said, “We are proud of our partnership with Airbus, and we are grateful for their continued investment in the City of Mobile. We are building great things together.” Congressman Bradley Byrne, who represents the Mobile area said, “Today’s announcement that Airbus will be expanding its Southwest Alabama footprint is exciting news and a further testament to the workers and pro-jobs culture of our community. This investment is yet another demonstration of Airbus’ long-term commitment to our region and our workforce. The Trump Administration’s initial decision to exempt parts and components used at Airbus Mobile from tariffs is driving huge demand for our American made Airbus planes. I look forward to continuing advocating for the men and women who work at Airbus Mobile and thank President Trump and his administration for their eagerness to work with me and other leaders to benefit Alabama workers.” Governor Kay Ivey said, “Airbus’ ever-expanding footprint in Mobile has become the core of a rapidly growing aerospace cluster throughout the Gulf Coast. Moreover, the company’s plans to increase aircraft production in Alabama, yet once again, means new investment and new jobs.” said Governor Kay Ivey. “Today’s news of the Airbus expansion is a big vote of confidence in the quality and caliber of the Alabama workforce. Today’s announcement will also better position Mobile to remain on track to becoming one of the top four cities in the world for aerospace manufacturing. I look forward to seeing Airbus reach future milestones at its U.S. manufacturing home in Sweet Home Alabama.” U.S. Senator Richard Shelby responded to the news with, “Supporting economic investment and job growth remains one of my highest priorities. I applaud Airbus for increasing the production rate and adding more good-paying jobs in Mobile,” said Senator Shelby. “This expansion highlights Airbus’ continued commitment to Alabama. I am proud they are building advanced, state-of-the-art aircraft in our state and honored for this world-renowned company to call Mobile home.”
It is also rumored that Airbus is considering expanding their Mobile campus even more by building a third Final Assembly Line in Mobile, this one would be dedicated to the A320 line of planes as well, and is also rumored that Airbus in deciding between Mobile and Canada for what would be it’s first A350 Final Assembly Line in North America.