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Airbus: the European aircraft manufacturer conquers the American market

There is already not enough room on the tarmac to store the planes. It must therefore be enlarged. At the same time, a brand new plane takes off to be delivered to its client. We are in Alabama, in the United States. The factory we are visiting is American, as are the colors of its planes. However, the planes are European, of the Airbus brand. The figures have fallen: last year, the European Airbus sold and delivered 863 planes worldwide. The year was catastrophic for Boeing, which sold only 380. For the coming years, the Airbus order book is much fuller. The American plant is one of the reasons for this success. Linda Taylor-Bethea is a production engineer. This American was recruited when the factory opened five years ago. After Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), Hamburg (Germany) and Tianjin (China), it is the manufacturer's fourth assembly line. In total, with all the other technical and research centers, Airbus now has 4,000 employees in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on it from subcontractors.

The main plant was located in southern Alabama because of its port. The fuselage elements and the wings arrive by boat. They were manufactured in Europe, especially in France and Germany, but all the final assembly is done on American soil. The site manager really cares about this identity. Airbus has accumulated contracts across the Atlantic. In 2017, Indigo Partners, which brings together several American companies, signs a record order for 430 planes, probably the largest in history. Airbus has weaknesses, as shown by the relative failure of the huge A380. But the aircraft manufacturer has a goose that lays the golden eggs: the A320 and its versions. A mid-range, modular and versatile aircraft. New versions are 20% more fuel efficient. These successes come at the expense of the great rival, Boeing. A few weeks ago, to replace its aging Boeing 757, United Airlines chose 50 Airbus A321s. With this factory, Airbus became for Boeing no longer a European competitor, but an American competitor. This plant is very timely because Donald Trump has announced that he will tax 10% of aircraft built in Europe.

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