Boeing to open region to international tourism market

Charleston Regional Business Journal
Chelsea Hadaway
June 4, 2010

Boeing’s new 787 final assembly plant in North Charleston could open up the region’s hospitality industry to a new international audience, said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager of Boeing Charleston.

Cavazzoni addressed a crowd of business and community leaders Thursday during the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon.

Charleston is joining a short list of final assembly locations: the only other places where Boeing assembles aircraft are in Everett, Wash., and Toulouse, France.

Historically, about 70% of Boeing’s revenue from its commercial airplanes division is from customers outside the United States, Cavazzoni said. This means that many of their international clients will be coming to Charleston, providing a boost to the local hospitality industry.

Commercial airline companies who have already ordered the 787 Dreamliner include Santiago-based LAN Airlines, Qatar Airways, United Airlines and Tokyo-based All Nippon Airways. Boeing currently has orders from 57 different customers around the world.

Boeing will build a state-of-the-art building for delivery of the final product at the assembly facility in North Charleston.

“We will know we are successful when our customers tell us they get the best delivery in Charleston,” Cavazzoni said.

It’s going to take a lot to get to that point from an educational and training perspective, he said. The necessary skill set isn’t just the “fill and drill,” he said. Much of their operations rely on automation equipment and computer systems.

Boeing is in the process of hammering out and refining future partnerships and plans with educational institutions and other resources.

“We need to make sure we have the educational system in place,” he said. Boeing wants to be sure that 4-year-old kids now can be employees 15 or 16 years later.

Boeing recently announced it will locate an interiors fabrication facility within 20-minutes from the final assembly plant in North Charleston. It will manufacture interior parts like stow bins, partitions, class dividers and video-control stations.

Since the interior of the airplane is what really distinguishes one airline from another, it will be important to have fast, small and nimble shops in the Charleston area to help with this aspect of production, Cavazzoni said.

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