With the new plant, Airbus gets a strong card to play in selling to U.S. airlines and tackle rival Boeing. Fred Katayama reports.
Airbus took the wraps off its new factory in Mobile, Alabama. It's set to produce four single-aisle planes a month by late 2017, mainly bigger 240-passanger A321 jets that have outsold Boeing's rival jets, as well as some smaller A320s. With the new plant, Airbus strengthens its hand in selling to U.S. airlines to better take on Boeing. Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier: SOUDBITE: FABRICE BREGIER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AIRBUS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Being present on the biggest aerospace market which is America was for us a must. And it will be an ideal complement to the 1100 workers, employees, engineers, managers who are already working for us in America." The first two new planes are going to JetBlue and American, starting in the second quarter of 2016. The plan calls for the Mobile plant to join forces with similar facilities in Germany, France and China to produce 50 A320 planes a month in 2017. Not to be outdone, Boeing plans to lift the production rate of its competing 737 jetliner to 52 a month in 2018 at its Renton, Washington plant.