Airbus to Open First Factory in America on Rival Boeing’s Turf

European planemaker is to announce that it plans to open a factory on Boeing’s home turf, a gambit that would see the firm roll out its first US-built plane by 2016.

Flanked by U.S. Gulf Coast politicians, european aviation giant Airbus said its plans to open a major production facility in the United States. Photo: Airbus In The US/Flickr

Wide-known airplane manufacturer Airbus will open a plant in the southern state of Alabama to compete more effectively with American competitor Boeing.

A number of news agencies are reporting that Airbus will soon make clear that it intends to open a plant in Alabama, where the company will produce A320 jets for the American market.

“We have made no secret of our hopes to expand our global footprint, including in the US, as we have a very strong market here,” Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn said. However, she added that the company hasn’t made up its final decision.

The European planemaker considers that mo9re than 4,600 new single-aisle aircraft will be needed in the United States over the next 20 years and it’s believed that the move could double its share in the huge market.

“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus president and chief executive.

John Leahy, the chief operating officer for customers, added that about 20 percent of the narrow-body US market currently belong to the company.

“By becoming a US citizen we can increase that market share to perhaps the… 50 percent that we’ve been able to enjoy in other parts of the world. I think it can be done in the next few years,” Leahy said at a news conference.

He went on and added that the decision will provide the company with the possibility to level the playing field with Boeing, particularly in customers’ perceptions. “Now becoming a US manufacturer – and that’s the way it’s going to be perceived,” he said.

“The Alabama plant can only help us just the way BMW, Mercedes, Toyota moving into manufacturing in the US helped them sell more cars in the US,” Leahy predicted.

Some experts predict that the company’s move could reshape the U.S. aerospace industry and boost manufacturing on the U.S. Gulf Coast. As far as Airbus’s suppliers are considered, they welcomed the news.

“It makes all the sense in the world for Airbus to be here,” said David Hess, president of United Technologies Corp’s  Pratt & Whitney unit. “We’re glad they are here.”

“It is a long-term strategic move, and anything that allows Airbus to make planes cheaper means they sell them cheaper … putting more pressure on Boeing,” said Alex Hamilton, managing director with EarlyBirdCapital, a boutique investment bank.

The decision would also improve economy of the region and would help Alabama to recover from the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, writes Business Standard.

“Something like this just gives us new marketing opportunities, new opportunities to talk to a lot of different aerospace companies,” suggested Neal Wade, chairman of the Aerospace Alliance.

(Alliance is an association of government and business leaders from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.) “You immediately put yourself into a different category,” he said.

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