In news that will reverberate in Chicago and Seattle today, Japan Airlines (JAL) signed a purchase agreement for 31 A350 XWBs (18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s), plus options for a further 25 aircraft. This is JAL’s first ever order for Airbus aircraft. We anticipated this order months ago.
The possibility that JAL could order Airbus at all, much less 56 of them, was almost impossible to comprehend even two years ago. There can be little doubt that the selection of the A350 is driven in part by the 787 experience at JAL. Had JAL been totally satisfied with the 787, it would have stayed with this aircraft and added the -10. The A350 selection is therefore highly significant.
JAL has been a reliable Boeing customer for fifty years. Fabrice Bregier, President and CEO of Airbus said “Achieving this breakthrough order and entering a traditional competitor market, was one of my personal goals and I am very proud to be leading the team who has accomplished this great success”. Champagne will be flowing in Toulouse today.
While Airbus is celebrating this order, there may be even more reason to be pleased later on. Boeing will react to the ANA order. The forthcoming order by ANA is now much more important for Boeing. If ANA also selects the A350, and we expect Airbus to be at its most aggressive, then there are bound to be repercussions. These repercussions will be felt among those Japanese firms who are Boeing suppliers. For them, no matter what, without a Boeing order business could start to tail off. Japanese firms produce 35% of the 787.