By Benjamin Pham
How Airbus’ First U.S.-assembled A220 Impacts the Industry
Five months after Airbus inaugurated its newly completed, comprehensive hangar – designed to handle the final assembly line for the A220 commercial aircraft – in Mobile, Alabama, the major aircraft manufacturer officially delivered its first-ever U.S. built A220 to Delta. potentially paving the pathway for evolving its production capabilities and presence in the U.S. market.
“Handing over the first U.S-assembled aircraft to a U.S.-based customer is a real point of pride for the A220 program,” Philippe Balducchi, leading the A220 program, said. “This delivery is the first of many to come and shows the strong collaborative spirit between the A220 program teams globally.”
Currently, in Mobile, approximately 400 U.S. employees have been trained for the A220 assembly and are knowledgeable of the required procedures for the production line.
“The delivery of the first U.S.-built A220-300 is a historic moment that highlights Airbus’ growing industrial footprint in North America and makes us all extremely proud,” C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman & CEO Airbus Americas, Inc said. “We look forward to seeing passengers delighted by the experience of traveling on board this brand new A220-300 proudly built in Mobile, Alabama.”
In the meantime, Airbus’ latest milestone in its A220 endeavors in the U.S. will directly compete with one of its largest rivals and prominent U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. Whilst Boeing overcomes the obstacles to return the B737 MAX to the skies and resume its deliveries, after flight tests, Airbus has the opportunity to enlarge its presence in the U.S.
Additionally, the prominent, European aircraft manufacturer perhaps receives the chance to effectively position itself better in the aviation industry, post Covid-19, due to its prolongation for assembling the A220 in Alabama. Simultaneously, Airbus’ potential growth in North America will render a pivotal role for the Toulouse, France-based aircraft manufacturer, crucially compensating for its official decision to effectively stop assembling the A380 Superjumbo jet.
The A380 was a powerhouse for international travel, especially for carriers such as Etihad, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines Qantas and British Airways. However, with Airbus’officially ending its A380 production line by 2021 and COVID-19, many international carriers decided to cancel orders or ground the Superjumbo jet, as it is deemed inefficient for flight operations, due to weak travel demand.
As a result, Airbus’ special milestone in the U.S. positions itself to focus on competitive domestic travel, as for instance with Delta, the Atlanta-based carrier has scheduled its A220s out of several key hubs to operate on high-demand routes. However, while Airbus celebrates its special milestone for the A220-300, within its A220 U.S.-based production line, the aircraft manufacturer will have to wait and see the long-term benefits of its factory located in Mobile, Alabama.