Airbus confirms its first US factory to build A320 jet

The A320 passenger plane will now be manufactured in the US
Image caption The A320 passenger plane will now be manufactured in the US

European plane manufacturer Airbus has confirmed plans for a $600m (£482m) factory in Alabama, marking its first assembly plant in the US.

The plan will put it into direct competition with rival Boeing, which dominates commercial plane manufacturing in the US.

The factory, which will create 1,000 jobs, will manufacture the A320 series of planes.

The plant, set to open in 2015, aims to build up to 50 planes a year by 2018.

"The time is right for Airbus to expand in America," said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus president and chief executive officer.

"The US is the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world - with a projected need for 4,600 aircraft over the next 20 years - and this assembly line brings us closer to our customers," Mr Bregier added.

The US plant will assemble the A320 series of passenger planes including the A319 and A321.

French unions on Sunday pressed Airbus , which builds sections of the aircraft in France as well as the UK, Germany and Spain, to provide guarantees on jobs and production in France.

"We will be vigilant to make sure they are not robbing Europe to pay the United States," said Gilbert Plo, a spokesman for the French Christian Workers' Confederation (CFTC).

The US plant, to be based in Mobile, Alabama, is Airbus' second plant outside Europe for the A320. It currently produces 37 planes a month between France and Germany and three a month in China. By the end of this year, it plans to reach 38 in Europe and four in China.

Local economic development officials said the new plant would be a big boost for Alabama, which is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Airbus parent company EADS already has some production facilities in the US, incuding manufacturing plants for its American Eurocopter unit in Mississippi and Texas.

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