Following his return from England, Mayor Sandy Stimpson spoke to reporters Friday about the Farnborough International Airshow, taking questions on a variety of topics from the plan for a new final assembly line in Mobile to the effects of new tariffs on certain materials.
Stimpson called the trip to the two-day event near London “very, very successful” for the delegation from Mobile and Baldwin counties.
“We were able to build on relationships our predecessors set up in 2005,” he said. “We spoke with 20 different suppliers.”
As for any deals struck with aircraft industry suppliers, Stimpson said that would be up to Airbus. He said the delegation was in attendance to help sell the city and the surrounding areas.
“Suppliers want to get a feeling of what the government … is like,” he said. “It was important for us to be there.”
Stimpson said he is not sure if the aircraft manufacturer had chosen any new suppliers for the area. Instead, Airbus has been working toward getting a new final assembly line built for the production of the new A220 series of jets, which were previously known as the Bombardier CSeries.
“I’m not aware of Airbus choosing any new suppliers,” Stimpson said. “Their focus has been on getting a FAL built.”
As for a timeline on the FAL, Stimpson said construction could start in the fall, with opening of the facility tentatively slated for 2020.
“They’ll be building more planes here, which means more jobs,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare.”
Aircraft manufacturers and executives at the show discussed the possibility of Mobile moving its regional airport downtown. Stimpson said Allan McArtor, CEO of Airbus Americas, had no major concerns about the proposed move, but they could work out any challenges in the future.
Officials at the show also discussed recent tariffs. Stimpson said the city supports free and fair trade, but it can be tricky because “what is fair for one person, may not be fair to another.”
“Mayors of cities don’t have a lot to do in trade issues,” he said.