Airbus continues to post milestones in the development of its U.S. jet assembly operation, delivering the first A320 narrow-body aircraft from the Mobile, Ala., operation to Spirit Airlines. The Florida-based carrier operates an all-Airbus fleet and last year took delivery of the first jet produced by Airbus at Mobile, an A321 aircraft.
“Spirit Airlines is honored to receive the first Airbus A320 made in America,” stated Ted Christie, executive vice president and CFO for Spirit Airlines. “Our 106th aircraft, 650NK, will join Spirit’s growing Fit Fleet, the youngest and most fuel-efficient in the country. This new aircraft shows our commitment to delivering the cleanest, state-of-the-art aircraft to our customers as we continue to offer the lowest fares in the industry.”
The European aircraft OEM, headquartered in Toulouse, France, committed to build the $600-million single-aisle assembly line in Mobile in 2012. Assembly operations began there in 2015, and the first aircraft completed there was tested and delivered to JetBlue in April 2016. All of the previous 36 jets completed and delivered from Mobile have been A321 aircraft.
According to Airbus, the Mobile plant is on track to deliver four aircraft per month by the end of this year.
The plant was designed to assemble the Airbus A320 series of narrow-body aircraft: the A319, A320, and A321. All are twin-engine aircraft, with carrying capacity for up to 220 passengers and a range of 3,100 to 12,000 km (1,700 to 6,500 nmi.)
With 1,537 A321 jets delivered since its introduction in 2008, the current order backlog for A321s is 244 aircraft. Airbus notes that the A320 family “is the world’s best-selling single-aisle product line,” seating 150 to 180 passengers, depending on the configuration.
According to Bob Lekites, executive vice president-Customers, Airbus Americas: “Without a doubt, the A320 family of aircraft meets the needs of our North American airline customers, and the 36 A321s already delivered from the U.S. have an extra special meaning for those airlines and their passengers.”