JetBlue Airways Corp Chief Executive Dave Barger said on Tuesday that his airline will receive the first U.S.-assembled Airbus jet, which will roll off the assembly line in 2016.
Barger spoke at a groundbreaking for a $600 million factory of EADS' Airbus unit in Mobile, Alabama. The plant is expected to create 1,000 jobs, and bolster U.S. spending by Airbus, which already spends $13 billion with U.S. suppliers.
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"We'll be the launch customer of this assembly line," Barger said. "We have well over 100 of the A320s today. It's a big day for JetBlue as well."
JetBlue is also expecting delivery of another 100 A320 narrow-body aircraft, he said.
No longer an upstart but not as big as Delta, United or the soon-to-be merged American Airlines-US Airways, JetBlue is one of the larger mid-sized U.S. carriers.
Although assembly is a relatively small part of the work of building a jet, Airbus is betting that having a U.S. facility will boost its credentials and help win deals. The Mobile plant will be only the second Airbus has outside Europe that builds its top-selling workhorse jet. The other is in China.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Mobile, Alabama; Writing by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Nick Zieminski)