It has been reported that Japan Air Lines is about to break its all-Boeing fleet and order aircraft from Airbus; the order could be for 20 Airbus A350 -1000 aircraft with an order valued at $4.3 billion at list prices. These aircraft will replace Boeing 777 aircraft currently in its fleet.
Airbus has been seeking a relationship with the major carriers in Japan, unsuccessfully, for the last two decades. This appears to be a major breakthrough for Airbus, providing the platform they have been seeking to generate further market growth.
Which reasons are behind this decision to break the traditionally strong, and nearly exclusive relationship between Boeing and JAL for wide body airliners in recent years?
1- It could just be something that would have occurred anyway in the routine order of business, considering the A350-1000 performance versus 777-X.
2- But this may be a rebuke to Boeing by JAL as a result of problems with the 787 and how Boeing has handled those problems, specifically in Japan. There were several reasons Boeing held its press conference to announce the 787 battery fix in Japan, and it is known that the confidence in the 787, both from airline and consumer preference perspectives, has been negatively impacted by the recent grounding.
3- It also could be a reaction to the current negotiations with Boeing over compensation. Industry rumors that Boeing’s offer was much lower than the Japanese expected could also be a potential factor in the JAL decision process.
4- It could be that Airbus has heavily discount the A350 to win this order. Airbus doesn´t need it as the aircraft has strong demand.
Japanese Airlines have historically bought Boeing, who have benefited by significant Japanese content on their aircraft with major orders from ANA and JAL.
Trying to foresee the longer-term relationships, if outsourcing content to Japan will no longer result in orders, will Boeing reconsider its supply chain for 777-X and future 787 models, or bring some work back in house?
This order, if finally confirmed, may be the first indication of how the continuing 787 problems will impact Boeing with key customers.
Based on the article “Is the A350 Order by JAL a Rebuke to Boeing?” published in AirInsight