Airbus plans to invest several hundred million dollars in a new plant in Mobile, Ala., which would be the European plane manufacturer's first factory on US soil, sources tell the New York Times. The move would ramp up its competition with Boeing, which has been the only company building large commercial aircraft in the US since 1997, Flightglobal notes. The assembly line, which is at least three to four years away from starting operations, could annually produce dozens of A320 jets, the bestselling commercial jetliner in the world.
Airbus currently holds only a 20% share of the American market for single-aisle planes—which are increasingly replacing older aircraft that are not as fuel-efficient—although globally, its share is about even with Boeing's. The plane maker expects that an A320 "made in the USA" could be more competitive with a Boeing 737, while also lowering production costs. But some in Europe will likely be concerned with the overseas plant, although it could eventually create 10 European jobs for every one Alabama job. Airbus already has strong ties to Mobile, the Press-Register reports, and currently has 200 employees at an Airbus engineering center there. Official details are expected Monday.