The dean of the business school at the University of South Alabama, Carl Moore, said attracting a company like Airbus could have a transforming effect on Alabama like Mercedes-Benz had when it picked Alabama for its first American assembly plant in 1993.
"It's a prestige name that's internationally known," Moore said.
Other big manufacturers have found homes in the South. Boeing assembles 787s in North Charleston, S.C., and Alabama is home to plants owned by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.
Airbus already employs about 1,000 people in the U.S., including about 230 in Mobile who design and install interior items such as seats and cabin equipment for its big planes.
Associated Press writers Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Angela Charlton in Paris and Joshua Freed in Minneapolis contributed to this report.