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Airbus to Build $600 Million Manufacturing Plant in Mobile

Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer, announced plans to build a new facility in Mobile, Alabama to produce commercial airliners. According to Adam Buck, a spokesman for the mayor of Mobile’s office, the $600 million facility will generate 1,000 permanent jobs.

This will be Airbus’ first manufacturing plant in the western hemisphere; it will be located on the site of a former Air Force base, where Airbus already has an engineering facility.

The Alabama governor’s office states that the plant will construct the company’s A320 line of single-aisle aircraft. Planes in the A320 family seat between 107 and 220 passengers, and are used “from very short-haul airline routes to intercontinental segments,” Airbus says.

“The time is right for Airbus to expand in America,” Airbus President & CEO Fabrice Bregier said in a statement. “Mobile is now becoming part of Airbus’ global production network, joining our successful and growing assembly lines in Hamburg, Toulouse and Tianjin.”

Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy told CNNMoney that having a U.S. manufacturing presence would help the company compete for new business as American airline companies replace their aging fleets.

“All things being equal, even if we have a better product, they tend to stay with a U.S. manufacturer,” Leahy said. “A good way to get a bigger place in that replacement market is not just to have the best airplane, but to have the best airplane built in America.”

Construction of the facility will begin next year, with aircraft assembly projected to begin in 2015. By 2017, the plant is expected to churn out between 40 and 50 planes per year.

Some analysts believe the Mobile facility will also allow Airbus’ parent company, EADS, to compete with Boeing for U.S. defense contracts.

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