Why Does Airbus Build Aircraft In The United States?

Airbus is Europe’s dominant power when it comes to aircraft manufacturing. The company is a direct rival to United States’ Boeing, and the two firms have been going head to head over the decades. However, Airbus has recently been ramping up its production on US soil. What spurred on this decision?

Airbus Alabama
Mobile, Alabama is home to Airbus’ major assembly site in the US. Photo: Airbus

Attracting the best talent

Airbus has two engineering centers in the US. The first one opened in Wichita, Kansas, in June 2002, which specializes in airframe design and analysis. Subsequently, the company’s site in Mobile, Alabama, opened in September 2015, which focuses on cabin and cargo systems across the product line.

When the Wichita branch was opened, former chairman of Airbus Americas Allan McArtor was clear about why this area was chosen. He said it’s all about location, and this is where the expertise lies. The company emphasized that there is an excellent pool of talent in the region, and it is easy to attract engineers.

The success in Kansas gave Airbus the confidence to build a large-scale site in the US. Subsequently, the Mobile site was initially launched to assemble A319s, A320s, and A321s.

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Global strategy

When the $600 million was completed, former Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier spoke about the development in a press release seen by Simple Flying. He explained that the move signifies that Airbus has become the first truly global aircraft manufacturer and that it is now also a truly American outfit.

Mobile, Alabama
The building of the Alabama facility was an ambitious project. Photo: Airbus

He also said that with the addition of this US facility to its production network in Europe and Asia, it has strategically expanded its global industrial base. Ultimately, it was part of the company’s tactics to gain a better presence across the globe.

“The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility is an important step forward in Airbus’ strategy, strengthening our position as a leader and competitor in all of our key markets. It 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 U.S. customers and key supplier partners,” Brégier said.

“At the same time, the expanded industrial capacity gives us more flexibility to increase production across Airbus to meet global demand”

A local presence

The building of the Mobile site proved to be a useful move for the firm. Only seven months later, the first aircraft produced there was delivered. JetBlue received the first A321 manufactured in Alabama in April 2016.

JetBlue Airbus
The delivery of the first Airbus aircraft in Alabama was a joyous occasion. Photo: Airbus

Ultimately, these US developments are a natural progression for any global company such as Airbus. With several customers already in the country, the firm felt it was more efficient to produce locally.

The manufacturer is not showing any signs of slowing progress in the country. Last year, the White House announced that it it would be increasing tariffs on aircraft imported from the EU from 10 percent to 15 percent. Therefore, there has been even greater incentive to keep production local. Subsequently, Airbus recently announced the opening of an A220 production facility in Mobile.

By collaborating closely with workers, partners, and resources in the nation, it became a local company. The US facilities create global growth opportunities across the business and throughout its supply chain. This was a smart move on a marketing level. It could gain more commercial, cargo and military contracts in the country. However, it also enabled a more effective process when it came to production.

What are your thoughts on Airbus’ sites across the United States? Have you ever worked at one of these facilities? Let us know what you think of them in the comment section.