Monday, October 16, 2017

Special review (10/16)

First Airbus. Now Bombardier.

I don't usually publish a "week in review" column on a day other than Saturday, let alone one about a single news item. But the news out of Amsterdam and Montreal on Monday warrants a column.

Airbus and Bombardier announced an agreement where Airbus gets a 50.01 stake in the Bombardier C Series, the single-aisle jetliner that has been slow to sell but is one of the most advanced in the world. Under the agreement, Airbus will provide procurement, sales and marketing, and customer support expertise. But for our neck of the woods, the really big news is that there will be a C Series assembly line in Mobile, Ala., where Airbus is currently building A320 series jetliners. And that will mean more jobs. But details are few right now.

All of this will take some time to come to pass, but in the future, Mobile and the Gulf Coast will be able to brag that it makes not only the popular, best-selling Airbus A320 series, but the Bombardier C Series jetliners. That's significant for the branding of this region as an international aerospace and aviation center, especially in light of all the other aerospace and aviation activities along the Interstate 10 corridor.

The Airbus final assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex has already attracted plenty of suppliers, and having a Bombardier final assembly line for C Series jetliners is bound to attract even more, not only to Mobile proper but to its neighboring states.

The announcement comes within weeks of Bombardier being hit with a 300 percent import levy by the United States following a complaint by Boeing that the company was selling jetliners at a ridiculously reduced price. But that tariff isn't imposed on planes built in the United States by American workers for American customers like Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based company plans to buy 75 C series jetliners.

The move also gives Airbus an expanded global footprint through the partnership with the Bombardier final assembly line in Quebec, Canada, which will continue to build C Series jets but apparently not for the market in the United States.

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