Japan Airlines’ order for 31 A350 XWBs brings the first Japanese carrier into the customer list for this next-generation extra-widebody jetliner, and further expands Airbus’ market presence in the island nation for its jetliner product line.
Today’s announcement of this important booking – involving both the benchmark A350-900 and longer-fuselage A350-1000 versions – makes Japan Airlines the seventh currently-operating Japanese carrier to have chosen Airbus’ family of modern commercial aircraft, joining AirAsia Japan (soon to be re-designated as Vanilla Air), All Nippon Airways, Jetstar Japan, Peach Aviation, Skymark Airlines and Starflyer.
Airbus aircraft in the region will double during the next five years and the company’s Japanese delivery backlog percentage has tripled from two years ago – representing its growing commercial success in Japan.
Japanese operators have now selected every Airbus modern widebody jetliner type, with Skymark Airlines acquiring six A380s and arranging the lease of 10 A330s. The single-aisle A320 Family has become a cornerstone in fleets of the country’s low-cost carriers, as highlighted by this year’s 100th delivery of an Airbus aircraft to Japan: an A320 received by JetStar Japan.
Airbus has fostered strong industrial connections in the region, with Japanese companies such as Bridgestone, Panasonic, Yokogawa Electric and Minebea contributing to all of Airbus’ current production aircraft. In addition, Toray and Toho Tenax signed a long-term agreement in 2010 to supply carbon fibre for the company’s jetliners.
Japanese partnerships with Airbus range from 17 companies for the double-deck A380, to 12 each for the A320 and A330 families, as well as four for the A350 XWB.
Airbus also benefits from research and technology cooperation in Japan, including: composite research in partnership with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); and Japan’s Research and Development Institute for Metal and Composites for Future Industries (RIMCOF) – in developing structural health monitoring technology.
Airbus delivered its first aircraft to the Japanese market some three decades ago – an A300 received by TOA Domestic Airlines – and the company established an in-country presence in 2001 with its Airbus Japan operation