Officials welcome Airbus plans to expand Alabama A320 production

Officials welcome Airbus plans to expand Alabama A320 production
The Airbus campus at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley continues to grow. Construction of an assembly operation for A220 aircraft is visible in this photo. (Airbus)

Alabama leaders hailed plans announced today by Airbus to increase production of A320 aircraft at the company’s Mobile manufacturing facility, where it will invest $40 million to construct a new support hangar.

On top of a project to add a new A220 assembly line at the site, Airbus’ latest expansion pushes its total investment in Alabama’s Port City to more than $1 billion.

“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,” Gov. Kay Ivey said.

“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,” she said.

Airbus said today that it will increase the production rate of A320 family aircraft at its U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile to seven per month by the beginning of 2021.

This increase, along with continued recruiting for the A220 manufacturing team, will result in 275 new Airbus jobs added at the Alabama-based facility over the next year.

Growing investment

Airbus’ announcement comes on top of strong growth in 2019, when the company added 600 jobs at the manufacturing site.

With plans already in place for production of four A220 aircraft per month in Mobile by the middle of the decade, Airbus is on track to produce more than 130 aircraft in Alabama each year for its airline customers.

“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,” Airbus Americas Chairman and CEO C. Jeffrey Knittel said.

“We have invested more than $1 billion in Mobile because of the terrific team of employees there – and because of the support and welcome we continue to receive from the Gulf Coast community and state and Congressional leaders like Senator Richard Shelby, who has been with us from the beginning,” Knittel added.

“We look forward to building on that strong relationship with our neighbors. This goes beyond jobs to include our support of education initiatives and future workforce development that will positively impact the community for decades to come along the Gulf Coast.”

Shelby commended Airbus for the additional investment and job creation.

“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,” he said.

‘Critical mass’

Airbus launched production of its best-selling A320 Family of aircraft at the Mobile facility in 2015, with the initial goal of producing four aircraft per month. Recently, the production rate has been moving toward six A320 planes each month.

The company recently began producing its first Alabama-made A220 at its existing manufacturing facility. Construction is expected to be complete on the new A220 assembly line later this year, with the first delivery expected to follow soon after.

“The significant expansion of Airbus’ manufacturing activities in Mobile will make the area an even more attractive location for aerospace suppliers and service providers, which will bring in additional jobs and investment,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“With demand remaining strong for new aircraft, I’m confident that Mobile will see continued growth in the aviation sector as it builds toward critical mass.”

After last year’s hiring surge, Airbus now employs 1,000 people at the manufacturing site at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. The company also operates an engineering center at Brookley that employs 220 and an Airbus Defense & Space unit that employs 70.

“Continued growth and expansion at Airbus is a tremendous benefit to the Mobile community. Over the last five-plus years we’ve seen the region’s influence grow in the aerospace arena, drawing additional suppliers, and with today’s announcement more than 1,000 high-paying jobs added to our community,” said David Rodgers, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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