Airbus today won a major victory against arch-rival Boeing, with the European planemaker securing an order worth almost £6 billion at list price for its flagship new jet.
In a deal that challenges the US company’s dominance in Asia, Japan Airlines is buying 31 of Airbus’s A350 planes, with an option to buy another 25 aircraft, as it replaces its ageing Boeing fleet.
JAL’s decision to opt for the fuel-efficient A350 is a further blow to Boeing as the plane is a direct competitor to its Dreamliner, which was grounded for four months amid onboard fires and a string of safety and technical issues.
Like the Dreamliner, the A350 has been promoted for its fuel-efficiency, a crucial factor for airlines which spend more on fuel than any other costs. Airbus claims it uses 25 per cent less fuel than its predecessors.
“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,” said chief executive Fabrice Brégier of the deal, which has a list price of $9.5 billion (£5.9 billion). “I must say that achieving this breakthrough order and entering a traditional competitor market was one of my personal goals.”
Scott Hamilton, an aerospace analyst at Leeham, said: “This is a huge win for Airbus and a big loss for Boeing. Airbus has been trying to break the wide-body monopoly of Boeing for decades.”
JAL has been one of the biggest operators of the Dreamliner, but is one of many airlines seeking compensation from Boeing for losses incurred by the 787’s grounding. But Boeing has received more than 950 Dreamliner orders so far. Both the 787 and the A350 are powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
Airbus has also enjoyed a string of other deals in Asia — which is predicted to be the world’s biggest source of plane orders in the next two decades — including contracts worth almost $13 billion with Chinese, Vietnamese and Singaporean airlines and leasing firms.