Airbus promotes U.S. links on Boeing’s turf

WASHINGTON — Airbus, headquartered in France, is pitching its value to the U.S. economy as it takes its battle for dominance in the global airplane market onto rival Boeing’s home turf.

This week for the first time Airbus is holding its annual meeting with its suppliers from around the world in Washington instead of at home in Toulouse. It’s the company’s way of underscoring that 42 percent of its procurement spending — about $13 billion in 2012 — goes to U.S. companies.

Earlier this year, Airbus broke ground on a $600 million assembly plant for its popular A320 airliner in Mobile, Ala., the company’s first such facility in the U.S. A poster at the company’s offices only a few blocks from the White House promotes the A320 as made in America.

Airbus currently claims less than 20 percent of the U.S. commercial airplane market, but is aiming for 50 percent — roughly the same as its market share worldwide, Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier said in an interview Thursday.

“There is room to maneuver to do better in the United States,” he said. “We care about this country, we have extremely good partners here, we are competitive and we want to grow with them.”

Airbus is having some success with its campaign for the U.S. market, Bregier said, noting that Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have ordered A320s.

“This is first of all because of the quality of the product, but also because we are seen as a U.S. citizen and assembling our aircraft here in the United States,” he said.

Boeing officials, however, scoff at Airbus’ attempts to emphasize their value to the U.S. economy, noting that Boeing employees 160,000 workers across the country, about half of them involved in commercial airplanes and the rest mostly in the company’s defense business.

“Their starting up of one very small plant in Mobile versus our 160,000 employees in the United States, it’s a significant difference,” said John Wojick, senior vice president, global sales &marketing, for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Both companies draw on many of the same suppliers scattered all over the world. A significant portion of Boeing’s 787 parts, for example, are made in Japan. The company also has suppliers in Europe.

The U.S. is the world’s largest airplane market, but it is a “mature” market and not growing nearly as fast as Asia, Wojick said.

Boeing reclaimed the title of world’s largest airplane maker from Airbus last year, delivering 601 planes in 2012 to Airbus’ 588 deliveries. But earlier this month, Airbus secured its first ever order from Japan Airlines, a deal that undermines Boeing’s long-held dominance of the Japanese aviation market.

So far this year, Airbus has sold slightly more planes than Boeing, but both companies “are having a very good year,” Wojick said. Boeing will again deliver more planes this year than Airbus, he predicted.

Bregier said he anticipates Airbus will regain the lead on deliveries around 2017 or 2018, when the company ramps up production of the A350, a family of long-range, two-engine, wide-body jet airliners due to come into service next year.

The contest between the two aircraft makers is about a lot more than bragging rights. Boeing forecasts that over the next 20 years the global demand for new airplanes will exceed 35,000 aircraft valued at $4.8 trillion.

The two companies are also challenging each other in legal arenas. They are locked in an international trade dispute at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, each claiming that the other receives illegal state subsidies.

More in Herald Business Journal

Glitches slow Boeing, SpaceX plans for human spaceflight

Boeing has an issue with its abort system that may cause the spacecraft to “tumble.”

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Planemaker joins forces with auto-industry supplier Adient

The new venture poses a threat to Zodiac Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Boeing opens new $17 million training center in Auburn

Workers and dignitaries marked the grand opening of the facility Monday.

Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name

“Our homes are worth more without the Trump name.”

Airbus floats shutdown of A380 superjumbo

The aircraft is so big that some airports had to expand runways to accommodate the 550-seat plane.

Does a hypersonic US reconnaissance plane already exist?

A Skunk Works executive speaks of the top secret aircraft as if it is already in operation.

Most Read