Bombardier and Airbus partnership still plans to build planes in Alabama

Bombardier and Airbus partnership still plans to build planes in Alabama
Announcing the partnership between Airbus and Bombardier in October were, from left, Bombardier Chairman Pierre Beaudoin, Airbus CEO Tom Enders, Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare and Airbus COO Fabrice Bregier. (Airbus)

Bombardier and Airbus are moving forward with its partnership to build the C Series airplanes, including an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars for a final assembly line in Mobile that would create up to 500 new jobs.

The future of the Mobile project was called into question by some today when a trade tribunal made an unexpected ruling in favor of Bombardier in a dispute filed by Boeing. That decision allows for C Series planes Bombardier produces in Canada to be sold to Delta Air Lines in the U.S. without additional tariffs.

“Our plans for C Series production in Mobile are not changed by this decision,” Kristi Tucker, communications director for the Airbus plant in Mobile, said. “We will be making C Series aircraft in the U.S. as planned.”

Airbus and Bombardier are moving forward with a partnership that could see Bombardier jets being produced in Mobile. (Airbus)

Those plans hinge on Airbus acquiring a majority stake in Bombardier’s C Series, a group of single-aisle, regional jets configured with between 100 and 150 seats – a size of aircraft that Airbus doesn’t currently produce.

Airbus and Bombardier are still negotiating the partnership.

“With this matter behind us, we are moving full speed ahead with finalizing our partnership with Airbus,” Bombardier said in a statement. “Integration planning is going well and we look forward to delivering the C Series to the U.S. market so that U.S. airlines and the U.S. flying public can enjoy the many benefits of this remarkable aircraft.”

Should those negotiations end successfully, a new final assembly line production facility would likely be built alongside the Airbus final assembly line facility at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley.

“This is great news,” said Bill Sisson, CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. “Good for the Airbus and Bombardier partnership and excellent for the Mobile regional economy. We look forward to the continued growth of our aviation/aerospace cluster.”

Bombardier is expected to generate up to 6,000 global orders for the C Series over the next 20 years and up to 30 percent of those could be from U.S. airlines. That would require additional production capacity beyond Bombardier’s Canadian operations.

Airbus began assembling A320 Family aircraft at the Alabama plant in 2015. Today, it has around 400 employees as it ramps up to full production, when the operation will support around 1,000 jobs.

“This really speaks to the capacity of the aerospace industry in Alabama and the positive experience that Airbus has had in Mobile,” said Patrick Murphy, vice president of business, sales and economic development at Alabama Power. “Adding another final assembly line from another respected name in the industry will encourage growth in that entire sector.”

The Bombardier C Series could reach new heights and be produced in Alabama. (Bombardier)

With the planned addition of Bombardier, it could lead to thousands of other supplier and support jobs as the airplane production capacity increases between the two series of airplanes.

“Today’s decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law,” Bombardier’s corporate statement said. “It is also a victory for U.S. airlines and the U.S. traveling public. The C Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We are extremely proud of our employees, investors and suppliers who have worked together to bring this remarkable aircraft to the market.”

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