Japan Airlines (JAL) has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for 31 A350 XWBs (18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s), with the option for a further 25 aircraft.
This marks the airlines’ first ever order for Airbus aircraft, with JAL currently maintaining an all-Boeing fleet. The A350XWB is expected to enter into service from 2019, and will gradually replace JAL’s aging Boeing 777 aircraft.
Airbus’ fuel-efficient A350 is seen as a rival of Boeing’s B787 Dreamliner which has faced a number of technical difficulties since it began flying commercially in 2011, with one of the most recent incidents being with Norwegian Air (see story).
“JAL decided to replace [the] current Boeing 777s [with the] A350 from 2019 after the airline checked/evaluated in comprehensive ways various factors such as high safety, high quality of aircraft with long-time durability, the support from maker, economical as well as the period to replace our current aircraft,” Jian Yang, public relations spokesperson of JAL, said in a written response to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific's enquiry.
The seatplan for the new aircraft has not been confirmed yet but in a typical three-class layout, the A350-900 is able to seat more than 300 passengers on routes as long as 8,100 nautical miles (nm). The larger A350-1000 seats 350 passengers and can fly up to 8,400 nm.
The longest non-stop flight route in the world is flown by Singapore Airlines from the Lion City to Newark, measuring about 9,500 miles (8255 nm) or 18 hours and 40 minutes in flight length, although it will cease in November (see story).
The agreement also represents the first Airbus has inked with a customer from Japan for the A350, adding to a long list of orders that now totals 756.
Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of Airbus, said: "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.”
For more information, visit www.jal.com