Airbus CEO on coming to America, and what it takes to compete with Boeing

Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, speaks during a press conference at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, southern England, on July 12, 2012.

In the airplane-making business, there are really only two big names that matter: Boeing, which is based in the U.S., and Airbus, which is based in France.

This week, Airbus entered Boeing's territory by breaking ground on its first U.S. assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama. CEO of Airbus Fabrice Bregier joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss the new venture and what's ahead for the company.

On opening an assembly plant in Alabama:

Bregier: "We are investing in an assembly line in a very complex part of the manufacturing process. What counts for us is to have a strong industry presence [in the U.S.], next to our customers. And we have a selected the state of Alabama because we have been partnering with them in the past. We enjoy very good support with the state of Alabama and the business community."

On competing with Boeing:

Bregier: "It’s an open market. Normally we enjoy a 50 percent market share. In the rest of the world we are leading actually. But in the United States, for legacy reasons, for historical reasons, we are lagging behind. We have a market share which is a bit lower than 20 percent and we believe we are getting closer to our customers. Investing in Alabama will help us increase our market share.

The competition with Boeing is very, very tough. We first have to communicate about the quality of our products. For the legacy companies linked to Boeing, it is more difficult to switch. But if you look at American Airlines, they procured 260 aircraft recently from Airbus, so we can make it. If we are seen as very good U.S. citizens, we produce our aircraft in America, when our competitor is outsourcing, I think it’s also a plus."

To hear more about the global airplane industry and the future of solar-powered planes, click on the audio player above.

 

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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