Airbus to open factory on rival Boeing’s U.S. turf

MOBILE, Ala., Mon Jul 2, 2012 – European plane maker Airbus confirmed on Monday it plans to build its first assembly plant in the United States, marking an aggressive foray into the world’s busiest aviation market and the home turf of rival Boeing Co.

EADS unit Airbus, the world’s largest commercial jet maker, said the Mobile, Alabama, plant would build up to 50 A320-family jets annually within two years of its 2016 opening and create 1,000 jobs.

It will be the second Airbus plant outside Europe that manufactures its most popular jet, after China.

Analysts said the move, reported by Reuters last week, could reshape the U.S. aerospace industry and boost manufacturing on the U.S. Gulf Coast. But Boeing said the move should not distract attention from controversial European subsidies received by Airbus.

The rivals are involved in the largest-ever dispute at the World Trade Organization, accusing each other of billions of dollars in illegal aircraft subsidies.

A crowd of about 1,000 industry executives and local dignitaries — including American Airlines Chief Executive Tom Horton, JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger and Goodrich Corp. CEO Marshall Larsen – crammed into the Mobile convention center to hear the announcement, arriving to the strains of the rock group Steve Miller Band’s 1977 hit “Jet Airliner” and rocker Tom Petty’s 1991 “Learning to Fly.”

Ford celebrates upgraded Louisville assembly plant

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Wed Jun 13, 2012 – Ford Motor Co. marked the upgrade of its assembly plant here on Wednesday where it has invested $600 million to add 3,100 jobs to make the new Escape small SUV.

Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields said the transformation of the Louisville plant “illustrates how Ford is going further, continuing to invest in American manufacturing and new jobs” as it makes more fuel-efficient vehicles like the Escape.

The Louisville plant opened in 1955 and the upgraded plant has been shipping the new Escape for about a month.

Ford has already added 1,800 of the hourly jobs at the plant, and will add another 1,300 more when the plant’s third shift begins work by the end of this year.

Ford said it has added more than 5,200 hourly paid jobs in the United States this year and when the Louisville plant’s third shift goes to work, more than half of the 12,000 new U.S. hourly jobs it committed to add by 2015 will be on the payroll. Ford made that commitment in early 2011.

The Louisville plant’s total hourly employment by this year’s end will be 4,200, Ford said.

The upgraded plant is more flexible, able to produce up to six different vehicles at the same time, making it one of the company’s most flexible U.S. assembly factories, Ford said.

The flexibility will allow Ford to adjust production to market changes, said Jim Tetreault, the company’s vice president of North American manufacturing.