Entries in Airbus (3)


US South Winning Economic War for Foreign Investment

Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) -- Airbus' choice of Mobile, Ala., as the site for its first-ever U.S. aircraft manufacturing plant is but the latest Southern victory in an economic war between the states: The fight to win direct economic investment from overseas, in manufacturing especially.

"For 10 years now, 39 percent of all direct foreign investment in the U.S. has gone to the South," says Michael Randle, owner, editor and publisher of Southern Business & Development, the economic development magazine of the South, based in Birmingham. "It's part of a trend you're going to see more of. If you want to sell to North America, it makes sense to make your products here."

Though an increasing number of foreign manufacturers, says Randle, want a foothold in U.S., "They don't want to throw their money around. They want a good deal." They're extremely conscious of costs, he says, and costs for lots of things--including land, infrastructure, electricity and labor—tend to be cheapest in the South. "Plus, there's the work ethic that the South is famous for."

Starting in the early 1990s, he says, Alabama made a huge commitment to winning aerospace and automotive manufacturing from Europe and Asia. After the state persuaded Mercedes-Benz to build a plant in 1993, it "knew it was on to something."

Other wins for Alabama (besides the decision by France's Airbus) include a $5 billion investment by Germany's ThyssenKrupp, which operates two steel plants in the state, and an announcement by Mercedes that it will produce its new GL-Class sport utility vehicle at its Alabama factory. Honda, Hyundai and Toyota have plants in Alabama as well.

As for Airbus's decision, economic development experts in Alabama and elsewhere say Mobile had an all but unbeatable advantage over other locations. Asked what city was the number-two competitor, Leigh Perry Herndon, vice president of marketing for Mobile's chamber of commerce, says simply, "There wasn't one."

The city's attributes, says Greg Canfield, Alabama's Secretary of Commerce, include a former airbase with long (9,600-foot) runways, two nearby freeway intersections, port access, an abundance of cheap land, low taxes and a local workforce skilled in aerospace manufacturing.

"The fact that Alabama is a right-to-work state, I think, too, was very important," he says.

Mobile already had a seven-year relationship with Airbus, dating back to when Airbus was in competition with Boeing for a contract to build air-tankers for the U.S. Air Force. Airbus competed out of Mobile for that contract, which they lost. Now they again have chosen Mobile as the base from which they will go up against Boeing for the commercial aircraft market.

Kudos to Mobile have come from a surprising quarter: Washington State, original home to Chicago-based Boeing and still the site of Boeing manufacturing.

"We congratulate them," says Alex Pietsch, director of the governor's office for aerospace development in Washington. Rather than seeing Airbus' decision to manufacture in the U.S. as a cause for war, Pietsch sees it as good news for his state's 720 aerospace suppliers.

"As Airbus grows its presence," he says, "we know our companies are going to be part of that supply chain."

A win for Alabama, he says, is a win for Washington State and for the U.S. aerospace industry in general--further confirmation that "U.S. manufacturing is back."

That generous attitude is not shared by Boeing, which in a statement denounced Airbus' decision: "While it is interesting once again to see Airbus promising to move jobs from Europe to the United States," said Boeing, "no matter how many are created, the numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of U.S. jobs destroyed by illegal [European] subsidies."

Alabama is kicking in $158 million in incentives for Airbus to locate to the state.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Airbus to Offer Extra-Wide Seats on New Planes

Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BLAGNAC, France) -- Airbus is trying to make the friendly skies a bit more comfortable for large -- and encumbered -- people, and more profitable for U.S. airlines.

The main subsidiary of European aerospace giant Eads is now offering extra-wide seats on its new A320 passenger aircraft, according to Agence-France Presse.

Each A320 jet will now offer two 20-inch-wide seats on each side of the aisle, rather than three of its standard 18-inch-wide seats. Boeing, Airbus’ U.S. rival, has 17-inch-wide seats on its 737s.

Airbus said that if U.S. airlines charged extra for the roomier seats, they could make as much as $3 million extra during a 15-year period.

Zuzana Hrnkova, Airbus’ aircraft interiors director, told reporters that the new seats were not just for overweight fliers.

“Mothers with children may be ready to pay a little more in order to be able to keep their babies in their laps,” Hrnkova said, according to AFP. “Large football players may be interested.”

Airbus’ announcement is timely. Obesity rates are on the rise. About 34 percent of adults are currently obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that number is expected to hit 42 percent by 2030.

And this month an overweight passenger who said in May 2011 a Southwest gate agent had told her she was “too fat to fly” is now suing the company for discrimination.

Brandon Macsata, an advocate for passengers’ rights and a leader in the “fat acceptance” movement, told ABC News earlier this month that his group had proposed airlines providing a row of extra-wide eats for larger passengers at a higher price, which they could buy voluntarily.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Airlines Places Biggest Jet Order Ever

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- American Airlines announced Wednesday it's expanding its fleet, buying a slew of new airplanes in what the company says is "the largest aircraft order in aviation history."

Starting in 2013, the carrier plans to buy at least 460 aircraft -- 200 from the Boeing 737 family and 260 from the Airbus A320 family.  These new, narrowbody airplanes will get better mileage and will save American Airlines in fuel and operating costs.

These new additions, the carrier says, "are expected to pave the way for American to have the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet among its U.S. airline peers in approximately five years."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio