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Airbus to expand production at Mobile plant

From staff and wire reports

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Airbus will expand production at its plant on the U.S. Gulf Coast in Alabama, where it will spend $40 million to construct new facilities and add 275 jobs, the company said Thursday.

As part of a plan to build 63 aircraft in its A320 family of planes per month, Airbus said it would increase production at its factory in Mobile to seven airplanes monthly by early next year.

Airbus, which began producing aircraft in Mobile in 2015, employs about 1,000 people at the site assembling A220 and A320 models. The company added about 600 jobs in the city last year.

The expansion announcement, which puts Airbus on a pace to produce more than 130 aircraft annually in Alabama, came amid a tariff dispute.

A World Trade Organization panel ruled in December that the European Union had not complied with an order to end illegal subsidies for Airbus. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on nearly $7.5 billion worth of EU goods in October.
Airbus said it employs about 4,000 people at 38 locations in 16 U.S. states.

“Airbus is proud to call Alabama home and we’re thrilled to announce a production rate increase for our best-selling A320 aircraft,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas.  “The support we receive from Senator [Richard] Shelby and our other supporters in Alabama made growing the Mobile operation an easy and obvious decision for Airbus.”

Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator and a key player in the tariff dispute, celebrated the news.

“Supporting economic investment and job growth remains one of my highest priorities.  I applaud Airbus for increasing the production rate and adding more good-paying jobs in Mobile,” Shelby said “This expansion highlights Airbus’ continued commitment to Alabama.  I am proud they are building advanced, state-of-the-art aircraft in our state and honored for this world-renowned company to call Mobile home.”

Gov. Kay Ivey called the expansion a “vote of confidence” for Alabama’s workforce.

“Airbus’ ever-expanding footprint in Mobile has become the core of a rapidly growing aerospace cluster throughout the Gulf Coast.  Moreover, the company’s plans to increase aircraft production in Alabama, yet once again, means new investment and new jobs.” Ivey said.

“Today’s announcement will also better position Mobile to remain on track to becoming one of the top four cities in the world for aerospace manufacturing. I look forward to seeing Airbus reach future milestones at its U.S. manufacturing home in Sweet Home Alabama.”

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