Japan Airlines is buying its first-ever jets from Airbus in a deal with a list value of 950 billion yen ($9.5 billion US). The purchase of 31 A350 planes deals a blow to U.S. rival Boeing, which had been JAL’s star supplier for decades.
Airbus chief Executive and president Fabrice Bregier and Japan Airlines President Yoshiharu Ueki signed the deal Monday in Tokyo, which includes an option for JAL to buy 25 more Airbus planes. They declined to give the actual price tag on the deal.
Ueki said the decision to turn to the European manufacturer, based in Toulouse, France, for replacements for retiring Boeing 777 jets was unrelated to the problems that have plagued Boeing’s rival offering, the 787 Dreamliner planes.
The 787 jets were grounded for four months earlier this year to confirm their safety after their lithium-ion batteries overheated. The batteries are now encased to prevent overheating from spreading.
The 787 development was also repeatedly delayed, frustrating JAL as well as rival All Nippon Airways, Japan’s other major carrier.
“We are sorry for the troubles we have caused our customers with the 787, but the decision on the aircraft was considered separately from that issue,” Ueki told reporters.
He repeatedly said the A350 was chosen because it was the “best match for our needs.”
He brushed off concerns about the additional training JAL pilots will need to fly Airbus planes, which they are not used to. Even after taking such costs and risks into account, the A350 was the best choice, he said without giving specifics.
Photo Credits: AP