Airbus welcome sight after loss to Boeing

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

Like a bolt out of the blue the unexpected and most welcome announcement last week of France’s Airbus (EDS) coming to Mobile created in the minds of many “shades of 1941-late 1960s” when Brookley Air Base was in full operation, offering many jobs to residents within a hundred mile radius of Mobile.

This pales in size to the tanker contract we lost last year when it was snatched from us in a drive through the efforts of Washington State Democratic Senator Patty Murray and her Seattle cohorts and the politics of the “Chicago Connection.” Murray made some belittling remarks about Alabama’s workers, in so many words, not having the capability of building planes. Now look who is having the last laugh. Even Boeing, the chief rival of Airbus, aired disparaging remarks at the French firm. But it was to no avail because Airbus had set its plans in concrete and rendered a solid formal announcement of their plans to locate here in an impressive Mobile ceremony Monday.

You can rest assured that Murray, the Chicago group and many others who led the charge taking the tanker contract from us are probably holding their nose as they eat a non succulent dish of CROW.

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There was an assembly of dignitaries, local, state and national at the elaborate ceremony Monday when the announcement was made. I am sure by now you have learned the plans for Airbus here. If not you will read all about it and watch on TV as they unfold.

This announcement may be beyond the realm of imagination for some. People all over the world were fed TV feeds and news releases of the ceremony. The Internet was stocked with related stories as Airbus officials explained how Mobile, Alabama will become a household word in the aircraft industry. Growth in the Mobile area will grow by leaps and bounds. This parallels the three Alabama auto manufacturing plants enjoying tremendous success. And, the fact that Germany chose Mobile for one of its large steel plants is only a plus.

According to news releases from Airbus, thousands of jobs will be needed to construct the facility. And every one job at the assembly plant will create three jobs at suppliers. That means Atmore, with it’s excellent Interstate access, should definitely be in the picture for some of this work. So, politicians, be on your toes. Become familiar with this company and be ready to insert your plea for Atmore’s share of these  “offshoot” businesses.

An Internet article this week indicated assembly plant workers with technical, trade school, engineering, electrical and mechanical degrees will be the first considered. There will be some skilled workers hired I learned. This means young men, who are technically or mechanically inclined trying to decide on a career should prepare themselves at trade schools or gain related college degrees. You have plenty of time because it will take two to three years to build the facility.

The revival of “old Brookley Field” will bring nostalgia to many of you. I know there are some here and in our surrounding area who held jobs at this base years ago. Perhaps you had friends or relatives who worked there. It is especially nostalgic for me because my dad retired with over 25 years of service there. I can remember back in the 1940s his taking me with him to “Brookley Family Days,” providing me the opportunity to see firsthand the sprawling operation. Yes, there should be good days and years ahead for all of us in this unique Gulf Coast area.

Those half dozen columns I wrote last year concerning the disappointment we had upon loosing the tanker contract makes writing this column very, very satisfying. I know I should not feel this way but I sure would like to see Boeings and our opponents’ facial expressions now that Airbus has landed here and will soon soar over the entire world.


We will have more news from Atmore’s yesteryears in our column next week.


“…yes,.. it always whispers to me…those days of long ago….”


Lowell McGill can be reached at