It's done, Airbus’ American dream has come true. At 10:00am, local time, on 14 September, Airbus inaugurated their first final assembly line on American soil. The ceremony took place in Mobile, Alabama, in the presence of the CEO of Airbus of course, the 250 employees at the site, together with the Governor of Alabama and a number of US airline executives. An event highlight was the placing of a sticker on the tail cone of the first aircraft to be assembled, with the words: “This aircraft proudly made in the U.S.A. by the worldwide team from Airbus”.
The city of Mobile was not chosen at random. Before setting up shop, Airbus received 158 million dollars of public subsidies (in the form of tax breaks and direct aid). Other advantages are Alabama’s minimum wage policy of 7.25 dollars an hour, one of the lowest in the United States, and the city’s unemployment rate of over 6% (one point higher than the US national average). The airframer should therefore have no trouble recruiting the one thousand employees foreseen on the assembly line by 2018.
With this 600 million dollar factory, Airbus hopes to grab half of the 4,700 new single-aisle aircraft orders that will be needed by US airlines over the next 20 years, which could well succeed ; since announcing their presence in Alabama two years ago, Airbus have doubled their A320 sales in the United States, increasing their market share from 19% to 40%.