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Fri, Jun 29, 2012

Airbus Reportedly Eyes U.S. Assembly Plant

Proposal For Alabama Airliner Assembly Line May Be Announced At Farnborough

Airbus is said to be considering setting up shop to assemble airliners in Alabama, and the announcement may come at the Farnborough Air Show next month, though a earlier announcement may be possible.

Sources close to the plans who requested anonymity said Mobile is the preferred site, though no formal decision has been make in Toulouse, France. Airbus has not yet even determined if it will open an assembly facility in the U.S., one of the sources said.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that analyst Adam Pilarski said the planemaker is considering the move because its A320 single-aisle jetliner is intended to compete with Boeing's 737. And, because its largest customers for the airplanes are in the U.S., it makes sense to assemble the airplanes closer to those customers. Pilarski also said the labor is less expensive in the U.S. than it is in Europe, allowing the planes to be delivered at a lower cost.

Another consideration is the supply chain. Many of the companies that supply parts to Airbus are in the U.S., and building airliners here would shorten that link. It would also break Boeing's 'monopoly' on the manufacture of large commercial airliners in the U.S.

The facility would be a final assembly line, where the major components of the airplanes are put together. Airbus already has one such assembly line outside Europe. The planemaker assembles single-aisle airliners in Tianjin, China.

There has been no official word from Mobile, but a city councilman said last week that a major economic announcement was in the offing early in July, which would be before the Farnborough Air Show opens on July 9th.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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