Airbus has officially opened its first jetliner manufacturing facility in the USA, which will build 40 to 50 single-aisle aircraft a year by 2018.
More than 250 workers will assemble A319s, A320s and A321s at the plant in Mobile, Alabama, with the first American-made Airbus commercial aircraft – an A321 – scheduled for delivery next spring.
Construction of the $600m (£389m) factory began in 2013 and Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier was on hand yesterday to inaugurate operations in front of a crowd of new employees, local politicians and aerospace executives.
“Our commercial aircraft production in Mobile signifies two things: that Airbus has become the first truly global aircraft manufacturer, and that Airbus is now also a truly American manufacturer,” said Brégier.
“With the addition of our US facility to our production network in Europe and Asia, we have strategically expanded our worldwide industrial base.”
Mobile is already home to the French company's US engineering offices and an Airbus Defence & Space Military Aircraft facility.
Airbus already assembles commercial aircraft in Germany, China and France, but its market forecasts suggest that demand for single-aisle aircraft over the next 20 years in North America will reach 4,700 units, prompting the decision to set up local production.
“It (the facility) enables us to grow our already significant presence in America – the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world – and to be closer to our US customers and key supplier partners," said Brégier.
"At the same time, the expanded industrial capacity gives us more flexibility to increase production across Airbus to meet global demand. The US facility is good news for the overall Airbus enterprise, as this greater production capacity creates global growth opportunities across the company and throughout our supply chain.”
Airbus and parent Airbus Group purchased $16.5bn of components and materials from American suppliers last year.