Airbus has enjoyed great success globally and has 53% of the global market of jets. John Leahy is a determined New Yorker who has helped make the company the largest civil jet maker in the world and has forged his career through winning over U.S. carriers’ boards but failed to win as much market share in his own country as he has globally. Airbus only enjoys 20% of the U.S. market in jet manufacturing. Those include the A320, the backbone of the majority of airline fleets.
On Monday, the jet maker announced it was planning to build its first assembly line in the U.S. in Alabama, with the goal of entering into the lucrative replacement market of older jets. Boeing and Airbus compete for sales of jets worth nearly $100 billion each year and the fight is no fiercer than in the segment of medium-haul jets, where they are nearly equal, unlike in the larger jets segment where Boeing is in the lead.
Airbus is hoping that its U.S. presence will increase its capacity to respond to more market demand, but to also allow the European based company to play the jobs car in the U.S., when the time arises and it is helpful.
Almost everyone has said the idea is fantastic and game changing said Leahy. Boeing enjoys an 80% share in the U.S. market in jets that are narrow body. Both Boeing and Airbus claim each of their planes is cheaper than the other to operate.
Leahy said that when negotiations came down to the last minute, many times Boeing was given the last call because of being close and easily accessible. Leahy says the Alabama plant will level the playing field.