Airbus presents first Alabama-made jet to its new owners
MOBILE, Ala. – It seems like only yesterday that Airbus broke ground on their grand $600 million Alabama plant, but now their first completed jet has been handed over to its new owners.
During a ceremony at Airbus’s Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Alabama, the Airbus A321 was handed over to its new owner, JetBlue. Boasting a price tag of $110 million, the A321 is not only is the European aircraft maker’s first passenger jet built in Alabama, but it’s also the first Airbus plane built on U.S. soil.
The ceremony, complete with the University of South Alabama’s cheerleaders and marching band, was a celebration of the partnership between Airbus and the city of Mobile.
“There is no better place in the United States to build airplanes than Mobile, Alabama,” said John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer – customers. “This is our hometown, our American hometown.”
For many at Airbus, the journey to building their planes in the U.S. has been a long road. Building the Brookley Aeroplex facility was mutually beneficial decision for all involved. The ceremony proceedings made multiple references to the collaboration and teamwork between Airbus, Mobile, and JetBlue.
“What you see here is not just an aircraft, it’s a symbol,” said Daryl Taylor, general manager of Airbus’s Mobile Aeroplex. “It’s a symbol of what can happen when a team works together to create something special.”
The jet has even been christened “BluesMobile” in honor of JetBlue and Airbus’s partnership.
“With that name, there’ll be no mistake where this aircraft came from,” Taylor said.
BluesMobile will soon fly to destinations across the United States and the Caribbean. The jet will proudly display a plaque dedicating BluesMobile “to the Airbus team for proudly bringing manufacturing excellence to the U.S., Mobile, Alabama, April 25, 2016.”
BluesMobile is the first A321 built in the United States, but the A321 is already in widespread use around the globe. It has a range of up to 3,500 nautical miles and is capable of flying routes ranging from short European commuter sectors and charter operations to coast-to-coast U.S. flights and more.
The A321 typically seats 150 passengers in a two-class cabin – or up to 180 in a high-density layout for low-cost and charter flights. As a result of an optimized cabin space and increased exit limits, the A321neo new engine option accommodates 165 passengers in two classes or up to 189 in a high-density configuration.
Other A321s, destined for American Airlines, are already being assembled at the Mobile Aeroplex production center, which currently has around 300 workers.