Creative logistics partnership between DB Schenker and Airbus to benefit Mobile, Alabama

According to spokesmen, this is an indication “of strong European-U.S. trade relations,” as it is a model for increasing employment for the City of Mobile while allowing Airbus to widen its distribution network.

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In an announcement that has many global implications for one of the world’s largest logistics providers, DB Schenker has developed a streamlined logistics and transportation system for Airbus’ final assembly line production in Mobile, Ala. 

According to spokesmen, this is an indication “of strong European-U.S. trade relations,” as it is a model for increasing employment for the City of Mobile while allowing Airbus to widen its distribution network.

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.

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. 

“The Port of Mobile (Alabama State Port Authority/ASPA) is a crucial element to ensure all stakeholders involved operate in a safe environment, and that the required infrastructure (ship berth, dock space, etc.) is in place to support this operation,” said Largeau in an interview with LM. 

He added that ASPA and all the other involved stakeholders have been crucial elements to the success of this project.

“At Brookley Airport in Mobile where the Airbus FAL and the DBS ISF are located the Mobile Airport Authority/MAA have also been a very important supporter and reason for success,” Largeau tol LM.


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. 

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,” said 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, said in a statement that 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,” said 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,” said 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.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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