Airbus Set To Announce Mobile A320 Plant

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Airbus is expected to announce plans next week for a $600 million A320 assembly plant in Mobile, Ala. Numerous news outlets are citing anonymous sources in scooping the company on the announcement, which will bring with it 2,500 construction jobs and at least 500 direct factory jobs. The first A320 is reportedly scheduled to roll out in 2017 and at the rate of about one a week after that. It's a consolation prize of sorts for Mobile, which would have been the epicenter of Airbus's ultimately failed bid for a $35 billion contract to replace the U.S. Air Force's historic fleet of in-flight refueling aircraft. Still, at the book price of about $90 million for an A320, the production tempo suggests it will take about eight years to create the same kind of value as the tanker deal and there's no sign that Airbus is planning to replace its bread-and-butter aircraft beyond that. While there is certainly cause for celebration in the Southeast, at the opposite corner of the country Boeing, which recently opened a 787 plant in Charleston, S.C., did not extend Southern hospitality to its arch-rival.

The Chicago-based company, which does most of its manufacturing in the Seattle area, dismissed Airbus's not-yet-made announcement as a cynical ploy to reduce the political impact of the help it allegedly gets from European governments in going toe-to-toe with Boeing. "While it is interesting once again to see Airbus promising to move jobs from Europe to the United States, no matter how many are created, the numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of U.S. jobs destroyed by illegal subsidies," Boeing said.