By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, March 21, the first Airbus A321 passenger jet built in Alabama took its maiden flight before it’s delivery to Jet Blue Airlines.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said, “It is a major milestone in the history of aviation manufacturing in Alabama to see the first Airbus aircraft produced in Mobile to schedule its first test flight,” Governor Bentley said. “This test flight is standard procedure before delivering an aircraft to a customer. Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama, and it is exciting to know soon JetBlue will receive its first A321 proudly Made In Alabama.”
US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said, “I was proud to learn that the first Alabama-made Airbus A321 passenger jet had a successful first launch in Mobile today. This is a positive milestone for Alabama, and I look forward to seeing what our state will contribute to aviation manufacturing in the future.”
US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, “From Navy warships to first-class aircraft, we can build just about anything right here in Southwest Alabama! Great work today by the whole team at Airbus for their successful first flight. I have more good news though: this is just the beginning. I am so excited about the future partnership between Southwest Alabama and Airbus. I truly believe our area will become an aviation hub, which will be a real benefit to our local economy and every single local resident.”
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield (R) said, “The initial test flight of the first Alabama-made Airbus passenger jet is another exciting chapter in the partnership that Alabama has developed with Airbus.”
Airbus is expected to build forty or fifty jets a year at it’s new $600 million Mobile assembly plant supporting 1,000 Alabama jobs.
According to original reporting by the Bloomberg News, Airbus is targeting Boeing’s market share in America. Currently the two airplane construction titans are even in market share globally; but Airbus only has 20 percent of the U.S. market. That share will surge to 40 percent with planes already on order to the airlines. Airbus wants to pull even with Boeing in the US
The $600 million assembly plant for single-aisle airplanes in Mobile is part of that strategy.
Gov. Bentley said, “We were honored when Airbus announced their plans to come to our state and show confidence in Alabama as a great location for aviation manufacturing. To Alabama, the new Airbus manufacturing facility means progress for our state and the promise of great things to come. The company’s investment in our state and in the local community will have a great impact for years to come.”
In one of the biggest job recruiting coups in the country, Airbus announced plans to build in Mobile in 2012. Construction began at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley the following year.