April 08 - Europe's biggest aircraft maker Airbus starts work on new plant in Mobile, Alabama, its first in the States, home to its main rival Boeing. Hayley Platt reports.
Alabama - a smash hit and now home to a ground-breaking Airbus plant. This is where the European plane-maker's first factory in the States is being built. The celebrations mark the start of the project. Fabrice Bregier is President of Airbus. SOUNDBITE: Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President, saying (English): "In two years time we will have an up and running assembly line in Mobile and we will start producing the first US made A320s and for us this is ideal as we will be ready on the biggest market for single aisle with 5000 units to be delivered within the next 20 years to the US airlines." Airbus chose Mobile, because of its harbour. It already has an engineering office there. But building in the US - home to its main rival Boeing - was controversial. SOUNDBITE: Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President, saying (English): "Here in America we enjoy around 17% - 20% market share. So there is a huge potential to get closer to this 50% and we will start the operations with this neo aircraft which is already a very strong success with 2000 aircraft confirmed in our backlog." Airbus says there will also be significant benefits for Europe. SOUNDBITE: Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President, saying (English): "We will create 1000 jobs in Mobile but at the same time we will create in Europe four times more jobs because the main components of these aircraft will be shipped to Mobile so it's really a win-win partnership getting closer to our US customers and being present like we are in China, on all the continents where it counts to be seen as the truly global player." The new $600m factory will build A320's. And it's seen as a significant challenge to Boeing which could also be about to lose a loyal customer. British Airways is reportedly considering buying Airbus A350s instead of sticking to its usual Boeing wide-body jets.