Airbus marked a major milestone at its new Alabama manufacturing facility today as the aviation giant delivered its first U.S.-made A321 passenger jet to customer JetBlue.
The plane, which flew for first time on March 21, was nicknamed “BluesMobile.” Workers from the Alabama final assembly line joined the plane on the tarmac at Mobile Aeroplex while a marching band and cheerleaders performed.
John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, told the crowd that the delivery to JetBlue climaxed years of planning and preparation for the company, which announced plans for the $600 million manufacturing facility in Alabama back in 2012.
“The team here at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility is very pleased and immensely proud to deliver to JetBlue the very first Airbus aircraft manufactured right here in Mobile, Alabama,” said Daryl Taylor, general manager of the Airbus facility.
“Going from breaking ground on this facility three years ago to handing over the first Alabama-produced A321 today is an amazing accomplishment,” Leahy said. “It’s a testament to how well executed this project was and how strong the teamwork has been here in Mobile and throughout Airbus.
“The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility has brought together all the best aspects of our other assembly lines around the world, and it shows how Airbus people work hand in hand with our partners to deliver great aircraft to our customers,” he added.
Robin Hayes, president and CEO of JetBlue, said the company was honored to take delivery of the first U.S.-made Airbus passenger jet. He presented Taylor with a plaque to mark the occasion.
“You’ve done an amazing job building an incredible airplane,” Hayes told the Airbus Alabama workers, who were wearing a blue “Airbus 1” jerseys.
Airbus, which now employs about 350 people at the final assembly line, plans to produce four or five A320 Family jets at the Alabama plant. The facility will eventually support 1,000 jobs.
“There is no better place to build airplanes in the United States than Mobile, Alabama,” John Leahy said at today’s ceremony.
In addition to the JetBlue A321 delivered today, there are nine other A320 Family aircraft in production at the facility. Airbus anticipates delivering four aircraft per month from the Mobile plant by the end of 2017.