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Ready for take-off: Transatlantic Trade Aligns to Advance Airplane Production

(Mobile, Ala) Leading global logistics provider DB Schenker has developed a streamlined logistics and transportation system for Airbus’ final assembly line production in Mobile, Ala. A sign of strong European-U.S. trade relations, this development is increasing employment for the City of Mobile while allowing Airbus to improve its logistics operations.

Airbus partnered with DB Schenker to develop a logistics plan to accommodate the manufacturer’s larger, ocean-going vessels. Those vessels are now being used for the international transport of four complete airplane “ship sets” per month. Using a new roll-on/roll-off terminal, its barge, and a newly-dredged section of river, Airbus can now use larger vessels to transfer the components by water.

Working with local contractors, DB Schenker also refurbished a pier (at the production plant) and constructed a new airplane hangar, both of which are enabling just-in-time delivery and use of the airplane parts.

Tanguy Largeau, DB Schenker’s Head of Vertical Market Aerospace Americas, says the logistics provider took an innovative approach to reduce road transport of the parts, and to mirror Airbus’ European operations and organize transportation via waterway. Borrowing a page from Airbus’ European operations, the logistics provider came up with a way to organize the transportation via waterway. That plan would include a fully-refurbished dock and pier, and a new hangar. “We designed the solution and organized the project,” says Largeau, who adds that DB Schenker coordinated with local authorities, service providers, and Airbus itself to bring the multifaceted project to fruition.


Airbus first used the new logistics setup for a shipment in May. Michael L. Schoenfeld, Senior Vice President and Head of Contract Logistics for DB Schenker USA, says the innovative concept is helping Airbus maximize area waterways, increase production, and utilize existing infrastructure that included a dock that was built and used during World War II.

“Working with Airbus, the local authorities, and numerous local providers, we designed the solution, organized the project, and orchestrated it in a way that solved Airbus’ key challenges,” says Schoenfeld. “The first run with the new system was flawless.”

These immediate, positive results bode well for the U.S. and European economies impacted by this innovative partnership, which has helped to add/preserve employment while also creating new business opportunities for area service providers. 

“This project, which involved multiple divisions across DB Schenker, is a tribute to the entrepreneurial nature of our organization,” says Schoenfeld. “We were presented with a business problem and we funneled pockets of expertise across multiple divisions of our organization and found a way to a better solution.”