Airbus, the European aerospace giant, delivered on Tuesday its first ever passenger aircraft made in the United States to JetBlue. This marks a new era in its fight for the home market of Boeing, its nearest rival in the aircraft industry.
Airbus handed to JetBlue an A321 passenger aircraft made in its plant located in Mobile, Alabama. The plane was delivered three years after the facility was constructed and seven months after its inauguration.
"Going from breaking ground on this facility three years ago to handing over the first Alabama-produced A321 today is an amazing accomplishment," said John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer in a statement.
Another nine aircrafts are currently being constructed in the single-aisle A320 lineup at the facility. The European-based company plans to ramp up production as much as four aircraft deliveries every month by the end of 2017.
One of the executives at JetBlue described the day of delivery as "a memorable event." Robin Hayes, CEO of the company received a portrait of the graceful shape of the jet streaking high over the city's downtown. The plane will be called "BluesMobile."
Although there's much affinity between Mobile and JetBlue, the fact remains there are still no flights offered by the New York-based carrier to major airports in Alabama.
"Right now, I'll be honest with you, we have no plans," said Jeff Martin, executive vice president of JetBlue, after a ceremony that honored the delivery of the first Airbus made in its new $600 million plant.
However, Martin added that "There are a lot of opportunities. ... Mobile, I'm sure like any new city, is one that we'll look at."
The Mobile, Alabama plant is the fourth facility overseas of the France-based Airbus. It is also operating aircraft manufacturing facilities in Tianjin, China, Toulouse France and Hamburg, Germany.