Japan Airlines announced plans to purchase Airbus A350 jets from the European plane maker, a move seen as a blow to Boeing’s long-held dominance on Japan’s aviation market.
JAL signed the agreement Monday, handing Airbus a landmark order of 31 Airbus A350 wide-body jets to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 777 Dreamliners.
The deal, valued at 950 billion yen ($9.5 billion), will see sales of 18 long-haul A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s, with the slate of new aircraft expected to come into service from 2019, JAL said.
The carrier said it was considering purchasing another 25 aircraft.
“In a nutshell, the A350 meets our demands in the best way,” JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki said at a joint news conference with Airbus in Tokyo.
JAL’s purchase from Airbus deals a blow to US plane maker Boeing’s foothold in the country’s major flag carriers.
Analysts said Boeing’s loss of the JAL deal was largely triggered by high-profile battery problems of its 787 Dreamliners.
The fuel-efficient successor of the 777 aircraft was grounded globally in January after lithium-ion batteries overheated on two different planes.
JAL and its rival All Nippon Airways grounded their fleet of Dreamliners over safety concerns.
Ueki, however, said JAL had made a decision independent from Boeing’s issue with its Dreamliners.
“We are sorry for the troubles we have caused our customers with the 787, but the decision on the aircraft was considered separately from that issue,” Ueki claimed.
Airbus Chief Executive and President Fabrice Bregier praised the breakthrough deal as “opening a new chapter” in EU-Japan relations.
“The world is changing. There is open competition everywhere,” Bregier said.
By: Maesie Bertumen