Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new A320 Family final assembly line at Mobile, Alabama underscored how this new facility will further enhance Airbus’ presence within the key U.S. airline marketplace, while also broadening the company’s global footprint and providing additional flexibility to its worldwide industrial network.
At a capacity-crowd event attended by approximately 2,000 invitees, area residents and others, the final assembly line’s creation was hailed as a “game-changing” development in Airbus’ relationship with the United States – where it already is the largest export partner for the country’s aerospace industry, and has evolved as a major aircraft supplier to its customer airlines.
Outlining the new facility’s significance were guest speakers that ranged from the top executives of a major U.S. A320 airline operator and a key avionics supplier for Airbus to a young Mobile student who spoke about opportunities in her community that will be created with the final assembly line.
JetBlue Airways CEO and President David Barger gave his perspective on how Airbus’ $600 million investment in the new Alabama industrial site is viewed by its U.S. customers: “It demonstrates the level of Airbus’ commitment of being close to its important American operator base for A320 aircraft.” He also announced that JetBlue will receive the very first A320 from the Mobile final assembly line – which is targeted for delivery in 2016.
Another speaker was Clay Jones, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at U.S. avionics manufacturer Rockwell Collins, who described Airbus’ creation of the A320 facility in Alabama as a true industrial milestone for the U.S. aerospace sector. “Although this is a very special day for the people of Mobile, it is also a very special day for Rockwell Collins and all of the companies that support Airbus, because I believe it marks a transformation of Airbus as a valued trans-Atlantic customer into a closer industry partner,” he said.
Victoria Corob, a student at Clark-Shaw Magnet School in Mobile, spoke about the aspirations that many young people in the U.S Gulf Coast region may be able to realize as the result of Airbus’ new A320 facility. “Airbus’ growth here means that, if I keep working hard, I can achieve my dreams and might even be able to look forward to a future with an exciting and rewarding aerospace career…right here in Alabama,” she said.
The participants at today’s ceremony all agreed on the impressive size and scope of Airbus’ A320 Family final assembly line installation at Brookley Aeroplex, which located five miles from downtown Mobile. The facility will incorporate 53 acres (215,000 square meters) of buildings, aprons and roadways in a 116 acre site – with Airbus also holding option for future potential expansion on an adjacent 116-acre plot of land.
Mobile will join the three existing Airbus final assembly facilities that currently build A320 Family aircraft: its original location at Toulouse, France, which was supplemented by a site in Hamburg, Germany; and subsequently followed by the latest at Tianjin, China.