|JAL announces its first ever Airbus order today. Image by Japan Airlines.|
Japan Airlines (JAL) has finally announced its first Airbus order today. Up until now, JAL has never ordered a single plane from Airbus and has exclusively ordered from Boeing for its mainline fleet.
The order announced today at the joint press conference with Airbus CEO consists of a total of 31 Airbus 350 XWBs. 18 of these are for the smaller A350-900 model with capacity of around 300 passengers in a typical 3-class configuration. The remaining 13 are for the bigger A350-1000 model which can carry 350 passengers in a typical 3-class configuration for up to 8,400 nm. JAL also has an option for an additional 25 planes.
The first delivery is expected to be in 2019 and will receive all 31 planes in approximately over 6 years to replace its aging 777 fleet. Currently JAL has 13 777-300ERs and 11 777-200ERs in its international fleet and 7 777-300s and 15 777-200s in its domestic fleet. Sounds like the A350-1000s are to replace the 777-300ERs and the smaller -900 model will replace the 777-200ERs or the domestic 777 fleet.
With this order, JAL will be the first Japanese customer to fly the fuel efficient A350 planes. According to JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki, JAL will utilize the A350 XWB to maximum.
“We will utilize the A350 XWB to maximum, which offers high level of operational efficiency and product competitiveness, while positively catering to new business opportunities after slots at airports in Tokyo are increased,” said Yoshiharu Ueki, President of Japan Airlines. “In addition to improving profitability with advanced aircraft, we always aim to deliver unparalleled services to customers with the latest cabin and steady expansion of our route network.”
All A350s will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. JAL has not ordered from Rolls-Royce for a long time. All recent engine orders have been from GE instead. If you look back further, the other engine manufacturer JAL ordered from before was PW. The last time JAL operated a Rolls-Royce engine was on its MD-90-30, which was inherited from its merger with JAS. So this is yet another change in its fleet.