Airbus will start assembling narrow-body A320 aircraft at its first U.S. plant in Mobile, Ala., in 2016, the European aerospace company confirmed as it ramped up its challenge to arch rival Boeing on its home turf.
Airbus sees the plant, which will cost $600 million and create about 1,000 jobs, playing a key role in boosting its current 20 percent share of the world’s largest single market for narrow-body jets as US carriers prepare to renew their ageing fleets.
While Airbus trails Boeing’s 80 percent share of the U.S. market, it edges out the U.S. plane maker globally with a 53 percent market share.
Airbus estimates U.S. carriers will need 4,600 narrow-body aircraft like its A320 and Boeing’s 737 worth as much $300 billion during the next 20 years.
Mobile will be Airbus’s second assembly plant outside Europe after Tianjin, near Beijing, where it began assembling planes in 2009.
Airbus, a subsidiary of pan-European aerospace company EADS, currently makes 40 narrow-body planes a month, mostly at its European plants in Hamburg, Germany, and Toulouse, southern France.
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