Airbus announced Monday that Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. (JAL) has chosen to order 31 new wide-body jets – A350 – from the Toulouse-based aircraft maker. It is also the first partnership between Airbus and Japan Airlines, as the latter has always been flying with Boeing’s jets. The new partners said that Airbus’ A350 will be made available beginning in 2019.
The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. (EADS) subsidy and the Japanese flag carrier affirmed the deal worth 950 billion yen (approx. $9.5 billion) for the 31 A350 jets, which will be delivered over the next ten years. JAL also has the option, based on their agreement, to request for 25 more A350 jets. Should this take place, Airbus would be securing 56 aircrafts for JAL. “This is a huge win for Airbus and a big loss for Boeing,” said Leeham Co. Managing Director Scott Hamilton, who is also an aerospace analyst. “Airbus has been trying to break the wide-body monopoly of Boeing for decades and likewise Boeing has been wanting to keep Airbus out of JAL and ANA.”
Despite the years of partnership between JAL and Boeing, the latter’s problem on the grounding of its 787 Dreamliner is said to have cost the aircraft maker. The delay of its 777X production is also considered to have contributed to Boeing’s loss of potential 31 aircrafts request. According to Teal Group airline analyst Richard Aboulafia, the problems with the 787s have “inevitably led to doubts about execution, resources and time.” He also said that the deal between Airbus and JAL is “seriously bad for Boeing,” suggesting a “little soul searching” for the Illinois-based aircraft maker.
A Boeing spokesman said in an email that the aircraft maker was disappointed with JAL’s decision but it respects the flag carrier’s preference to Airbus. “We have built a strong relationship with Japan Airlines over the last 50 years and we look to continue our partnership going forward,” the spokesman stated. “It’s the price to be paid for passivity, by not launching this plane one year ago,” Aboulafia said, referring to the 777X, which is yet to be launched.
“This is Airbus’ largest order for the A350 so far this year and is the largest ever order we have received from a Japanese airline,” confessed Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier. He also admitted that “achieving this breakthrough order and entering a traditional competitor market” was one of his personal goals.