Airbus has really taken off in the Port City. The facility at Brookley Aeroplex hit another milestone on Friday, delivering its 50th plane to Delta Air Lines.
This, just one day after the Atlanta-based carrier announced plans to buy 100 jetliners from Airbus.
It’s a booming industry with growing roots along the Gulf Coast. The Airbus plant at Brookley Aeroplex is constantly churning out new planes, each with a proud Airbus stamp. Friday morning, the 50th plane produced here in Mobile, an A-321, was delivered to Delta.
With the delivery this week, the facility also meets its goal to produce four A320 family aircraft a month, known in the aircraft industry as “rate four.”
“The 50th delivery is a real point of pride not only for our team here in Mobile, but also for tens of thousands of employees from the hundreds of U.S. suppliers that contribute to these aircraft,” said Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor. “We said in 2012 that we were going to build Airbus aircraft in the U.S. for our U.S.-based customers. We delivered the first aircraft in 2016, and today we stand here celebrating the 50th. We’ve met our originally announced schedule, and we’ve fulfilled the commitment we made to our customers, our suppliers across the country, and this Gulf Coast community.”
It’s the first of many. Delta has signed up to get at least 100 jets from Airbus starting in 2020. A sign of success, according to former aerospace reporter, James Wallace, an expert in the aerospace industry who’s also from Alabama.
“It’s a big win for Mobile whenever a company like Airbus comes in, and now they’re going to build even more models there.”
Wallace is now retired, but he followed Airbus and Boeing for years. He also worked for Boeing at the end of his career. He says everything he’s seen from the Airbus facility so far, is promising for Mobilians.
“I absolutely never would have imagined a company like Airbus coming to Alabama, but there they are today. You know factories grow, they hire more people, so you begin to build an industry and it multiplies.”
And that seems to be happening already. The city put on a big celebration when the first aircraft was delivered to Jet Blue last April. Forty-nine planes have followed. Thirteen of them for Delta, and the rest to American, Jet Blue, and Spirit. That’s put the Port City on the map to compete globally.
“There are dominoes that fall economically to help a community, and that’s going to help Mobile down the road…so it’s not just the fact that it means more jobs, better paying jobs, but there’s a whole lot of prestige to being one of the few cities on this planet where big airplanes are made.”
To put it into perspective, Airbus facilities similar to Mobile’s are in France, China, and Germany. Boeing, Airbus’ U.S. competitor has two facilities in America in Charleston, South Carolina and Seattle.