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Christine Negroni

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Airbus Arrives in Alabama and Boeing Is Sleepless in Seattle

Posted: 07/05/2012 5:50 pm

Are they sleepless in Seattle? I'm guessin' the answer is yes, now that Airbus has confirmed it is fixin' to build a A320neo assembly plant in Mobile, Ala., less than 650 miles from Boeing's just opened Dreamliner factory in South Carolina. Mobilians and their new best friends, the French, are grinnin' like country bears.

This is a business story first and foremost, a high stakes international competition between multi-billion dollar aerospace companies. Bless its heart, Airbus will spend $600 million on the final assembly factory that will employ a big ole' heap of local folks.

Boeing's tore up about the situation, complaining that Airbus has an unfair advantage since the French government owns a partial share of the plane maker.

But down in the country they say, "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay under the porch," and Airbus boss man Fabrice Brégier likes the notion. "They would be very welcome to invest in an assembly line in Europe. Please, Boeing, do it." Mr. Brégier told Boeing through a Flight Global interview.

Having spent years living in America's deep south, I know Airbus and Alabama are in for some interesting times sho'nuff as they learn how to live and work together.

Talk
Let's start with basic comprehension. If, like me, you think French accents are adorable and southern accents are charming but have difficulty nderstanding what is being said in either case, just remember, southerners say fixin' for 'planning to,' near 'bout for 'almost,' hankerin' for 'want to' and I'll tell you whut? just to fill conversational space.

Eat
Finding common culinary ground could get interesting. But for starters, remember French fries = pommes frites and grits = polenta. Don't get all uppity, good fromage will survive pimentos and lardons ain't but a fancy name for bacon. Pâté, escargot and croissants in France -- those be chitlins, crawdads and biscuits down home.

Pray
They don't call America's South "the Bible belt" for nothin'. There's a church on every corner, a reminder that Christianity is alive and well in Alabama. Atheism may be the unofficial religion in France with a piddlin' percentage of the population reporting they attend worship services, but that dog don't hunt in America's south.

I hear tell Airbus has learned itself a thing or two from the Mississippians who are already putting Eurocopters and U.S. Army Lakotas together just down the road a piece in Columbus, Miss.

Before the bulldozers rumble into Mobile, Alabamans might should carry their newest immigrants over yonder to get a lesson in some of the finer points of blending cultures, cuz, if Airbus and Alabama are of a mind to keep Boeing awake at night, they should set their minds to learning how to sleep together.

 

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