By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey joined leaders of Airbus, top local officials and others at the Mobile Aeroplex today for a groundbreaking ceremony to launch construction of the company’s new A220 aircraft manufacturing facility.

The assembly line will satisfy the strong and growing U.S. demand for the A220 aircraft, the newest offering in Airbus’ commercial aircraft product line. The project will create 432 full-time jobs in Mobile.

“This is a great day for Mobile and for Alabama,” Ivey said. “That’s because Airbus’ growth plans will not only create new jobs for Alabamians but also strengthen the bonds that have developed between the global aerospace company and our state. Alabama has a long history in flight and, as this project shows, a bright future in the aviation industry.”

Airbus CEO Tom Enders led the celebration and welcomed more than 700 attendees, including Airbus and other industry executives, Airbus manufacturing employees, state and national dignitaries, and community leaders.

“Mobile is a great place to be,” he said during the event.

Jeff Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, said Airbus’ expansion in the United States reflects the company’s growing partnerships with customers, as well as with U.S. supplier-partners and the communities in which the company operates across the nation.

“Our partnerships are growing again with the addition of an A220 manufacturing facility that will employ some 400 more employees at full rate,” Knittel said. “Together we’ve already put Mobile on the map in the world of global aviation, and together we are making a new mark for the future.”

An Airbus A220 jet in flight. The company’s Alabama employees will begin building the A220 later this year. (contributed)

‘Powerful catalyst for growth’

Airbus manufactures A320 Family aircraft in Mobile, and last month delivered its 100th Alabama-built plane to Frontier Airlines. It also operates an engineering center in Mobile, as well as producing helicopters and satellites elsewhere in the U.S.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the A220 assembly line project represents an important milestone for the state’s robust and expanding aerospace sector.

“Airbus’ decision to launch production of A220 aircraft at a new assembly line in Mobile will act as a powerful catalyst for sustained growth in an industrial sector that is key to Alabama’s future,” Canfield said.

“Airbus’ expanding presence in the Mobile aerospace cluster will spark significant job creation and spur additional aerospace investment in the region for many years.”

The new assembly line will be built at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, adjacent to the A320 Family production line, and will facilitate assembly of A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft for U.S. customers.

Aircraft production is planned to begin in the third quarter, with first delivery of a Mobile-assembled A220 aircraft scheduled for 2020. The new A220 production facilities will be complete by next year.

Airbus said this month it plans to add positions on its A320 Family assembly line, built with a $600 million investment. Altogether, the company plans to create 600 new jobs at its Alabama production complex over the next 18 months.

Airbus will receive assistance from AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, which operates a $7 million training center at Mobile Aeroplex.

This story originally appeared on the Made in Alabama website.