Airbus Alabama has the Spirit

Airbus Alabama has the Spirit
Alabama's Airbus manufacturing center this week delivered Spirit Airlines' first American-made A321 aircraft. (Airbus)

An A321 wearing the bright yellow of Spirit Airlines was delivered to Spirit employees on Monday during a ceremony that marked a “double milestone” for the Airbus Alabama operation.

The aircraft was the 10th produced at Airbus’ manufacturing facility in Mobile and the first delivered to Florida-based Spirit Airlines, a major customer. Spirit sent 140 employees to the delivery ceremony at Mobile Aeroplex.

Daryl Taylor heads Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing facility. (Airbus)

“It’s very exciting. Today is a double milestone,” Daryl Taylor, general manager of the Airbus Alabama facility, said in a Periscope interview broadcast on Airbus social media. “Though 10 may not be a big, major milestone in terms of Airbus’ history, in terms of Mobile and our facility here, it’s a major milestone and a step along the long journey toward further milestones.”

Spirit President and CEO Bob Formaro said the company “was thrilled to add our first American-made aircraft to the Spirit family.” The airline is expected to take delivery of at least one more Alabama-made Airbus plane this year.

Bob Lekites, executive vice president-customers for Airbus Americas, said the company’s relationship with Spirit has been mutually beneficial.

“It’s been a successful partnership, and this aircraft — the first to be produced for Spirit in Mobile and the U.S.A — will hold a special place in our memories as we go forward. It’s truly a great milestone,” Lekites said in a statement.

The first Alabama-made Airbus A321 for Spirit Airlines makes its maiden flight. (Airbus)

‘Secret weapon’

Airbus, which announced plans for its $600 million Alabama manufacturing center in 2012, launched production at the facility last year.

The first customer delivery took place in April, with JetBlue claiming the first Alabama-made aircraft, called “BluesMobile.” Other aircraft have been produced in Mobile for American Airlines.

Spirit Airlines sent 140 employees to the delivery ceremony at Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing center. (Airbus)
Spirit Airlines sent 140 employees to the delivery ceremony at Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing center. (Airbus)

The Airbus Alabama manufacturing facility now employs 350 workers – and many of them were at the delivery ceremony.

“We have a very, very engaged workforce – that’s our secret weapon here, without a doubt,” Taylor said in the Periscope interview. “This team is committed, excited and engaged, keen to continue to learn as we accelerate the (production) rate.”

The Airbus facility at Mobile Aeroplex is expected to produce four aircraft per month by the end of 2017. The operation is expected to support 1,000 jobs at full production.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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