Airbus looks set to finally catch up with Boeing in the Japanese market following a major deal for Airbus A350s with Japan Airlines (JAL).
JAL announced a firm order for 18 A50-900s and 13 A350-1000s on Monday. The deal also includes options for a further 25 aircraft. Deliveries are to start in 2019.
The order is the first wide-body commitment for Airbus aircraft by either Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways, the dominating airlines in Japan. JAL inherited a fleet for Airbus A300s when it took over Japan Air System. In addition to JAL, ANA is also about to make a decision on the composition of its future long-haul fleet and observers say there is a good chance it, too, will move to Airbus.
Japan has historically been almost exclusively a Boeing market with the Airbus market share slowly creeping up to around 10% over decades. Boeing has managed to engage the Japanese aerospace industry as a major supplier in programs such as the 777 and 787. Those aircraft, along with the Boeing 747 earlier, form the backbone of the two carriers’ fleets and JAL and ANA have been among the first airlines to take delivery of the 787.
Airbus has made some inroads in the Japanese market mainly in the narrow-body market. ANA operates 17 A320s, Starflyer has eleven A320s, Peach has ten and Jetstar Japan 17 A320s. Air Asia Japan, soon to be Vanilla Air, operates five A320s.
Skymark Airlines has an order for six Airbus A380s and plans to lease ten A330s. The airline plans to take delivery of the first aircraft of both models by the middle of 2014.
[Editor’s Note: The number of A350-1000s has been corrected above.]