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Airbus is U.S.-bound

By control on July 2, 2012

Airbus/EADS announced plans Monday to open a $600 million A320-family manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama, the company's first production facility in the U.S. Construction is expected to being next summer, with completion slated for 2015.

The first plane deliveries could occur as early as 2016, according to an Airbus news release. Production of up to 50 aircraft a year will be established by 2018.

“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” Airbus' new president and CEO, Fabrice Bregier, said in a statement. He added that the U.S. will need 4,600 more aircraft in the next 20 years; the move into the U.S. is simply bringing Airbus closer to the demand.

Mobile officials said the move will create 1,000 permanent jobs — the construction process will reportedly generate three times as many jobs over a three-year period — and will be a boost to the local economy.

“This will be the catalyst that will further strengthen Mobile’s foundation for the future," Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said during the unveiling. “There is no doubt that we’ll see an influx of suppliers in the aerospace industry moving to our city and the region. This will create even more construction and manufacturing jobs for Mobile. It will also have a positive impact on the city’s housing market.”

The saga of bringing Airbus to Mobile, according to a city press release, has been slowly evolving for the past seven years. In June 2005, EADS targeted Mobile for a $600 million plant to assemble military aircraft. Later that year, backed by Northrop Grumman, Airbus submitted a bid for a contract with the Air Force. When the $40 billion contract was awarded in 2008, Boeing protested and the Air Force eventually canceled the contract. Northrop Grumman then left EADS alone to compete with Boeing, with the U.S.-based carrier eventually winning the contract.

When EADS lost the contract, in 2011, Mayor Jones tried to calm the uproar. “While they won’t be building the Air Force refueling tanker, there’s still a chance EADS could build something in Mobile," he said at the time.

His prescient statement was confirmed today.

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