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Alabama Makes Pitch for Airbus Plant

Assembly of an Airbus A350 XWB at a plant in France. Analysts say Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex could be hosting such a scene. 

Assembly of an Airbus A350 XWB at a plant in France. Analysts say Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex could be hosting such a scene. 

Not so long ago, it looked like a sure bet that Airbus would build a new aircraft assembly plant in Mobile. After all, they were teamed up with American partner Northrop Grumman and had just won the contract to build refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force. But rival Boeing screamed “unfair,” the bid process went back to the calculators and Boeing won the rematch.

Outrage over the flip-flop was barely off the lips of Alabama officials when a new plan emerged. Maybe the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., parent of Airbus, would like to increase its commercial aircraft presence in the U.S.  Maybe it would like to build commercial jets in Mobile. After all, it already has an engineering facility here.

Whispers firmed up earlier this year when Gov. Robert Bentley said the state is in continuing contact with the European company. Some thought a decision might come at the EADS board meeting.

The Puget Sound Business Journal, published near Boeing’s big assembly plants in Washington State, suggested that an American plant would help the European company with cost-competition, because Alabama laborers don’t belong to unions.

Meanwhile Leeham News and Comment, subtitled “Intelligence for the Aviation Industry,” reports several reasons why Airbus should open operations in Mobile: It’s out of room at its other facilities, it would help ease its problems with currency fluctuations in Europe, and it’s easier to sell “made in America” products in the U.S.

“We think the odds are better than 50-50, but it’s tough to handicap this,” the Leeham piece concludes.

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