Meet America's #2 Jetliner Company...Airbus S.A.S.

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,,, at 7/16/2013 09:57:00 AM
Mas oui! There's an old joke that the best car made in America is the (Ohio-made) Honda Accord. Similarly, we may soon hear that the best jetliner made in America is the (Alabama-made) Airbus A320. Following the lead of Mercedes-Benz, the multinational European concern has decided to set up shop in the land of the Crimson Tide to meet US demand for its bread-and-butter Boeing 737 competitor. The post below talks about how the Chinese have been continually frozen out of investing in the US over increasingly dubious "national security" grounds. Yes, there remains that brouhaha over it being forced out of a contract to make the US Air Force's next generation air tankers, but that was not really over "national security" but over "buy American" objections. The Europeans being Europeans, there are no such concerns with Airbus investment in the commercial sector despite its long-running WTO dispute with Boeing. Speaking of whom, unfavourable attention regarding the 787 Dreamliner's design faults may, by default, work in the European consortium's favour insofar as there are only two real players in this industry at present.

There is now an MSN contribution from Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, about the consortium's selection of Mobile, Alabama as the site of forthcoming A320 manufacture after originally selecting it to build the shelved tankers:
It's the same with our relationships with the people of Alabama. When our team first started looking for an industrial base to manufacture a refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force, hundreds of cities stepped forward. After an exhaustive evaluation process, Mobile emerged as the obvious choice.

Sure, it met our technical requirements. But so did others. A differentiator for Alabama was the unity and supportive purpose shown by every entity in the state supporting Mobile. City, state and federal representatives (Republicans and Democrats alike) came together with one goal: Show the Airbus team that Alabama would be its partner for the long term.

They spoke with one voice, which impressed our selection committees. And when the U.S. tanker project was lost, instead of hanging their heads and walking away, they said, "What else could we do?" It was indicative of the good relationship Airbus has with Mobile and Alabama—instead of giving up, we found another way to make it work. As a result, Alabama got an even better, larger-impact project.

Infrastructure was another key factor: The site was perfect, with an airport and ocean port, and adequate land at Brookley Aeroplex. Workforce was also vital. We were encouraged by the auto industry's success in Alabama because its manufacturing aspect is a trained skill similar to that of aircraft assembly. 
All's well and good, but an unspoken reason here regarding human capital is that foreign investors prefer investing in the American South--the Sun Belt--is because of its largely non-unionized workforce compared to the Rust Belt. I was struck how Alabama's officialdom explicitly mentions this selling point that Mercedes-Benz there has little use for unions:
Alabama's Mercedes-Benz plant, the subject of an active organizing campaign by the United Auto Workers, doesn't need a union, Gov. Robert Bentley said. The governor was at the Tuscaloosa County plant last week to participate in a sendoff for its president and chief executive, Markus Schaefer, who is taking an executive role at the automaker's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
After the event, Bentley said the plant is a close-knit organization that works well together as a team."I really don't believe they have any need for unionization and an intermediary between them and management," he said in an interview in response to a reporter's question about the UAW campaign. "I don't think it's going to happen."

The governor added that Alabama's status as a right-to-work state helps him recruit new business. Bentley's comments are the most pointed public ones to date from a state official about the UAW's latest campaign at the Mercedes plant, which launched Alabama's auto industry in the 1990s. Previous organizing attempts there have failed.
Having escaped the clutches of European unions, you'd hardly think they'd be enthusiastic about setting up shop in America only to find that it too is thick with them. Hence the continuing popularity of Southern right-to-work states; keep the unionized whingers in the Midwest (and Western Europe too for that matter).