Japan Airlines considers more A350s
Fresh out of bankruptcy protection, Japan Airlines (JAL) is on a growth spurt. Read More » Speaking to media in Tokyo this week, JAL president, Yoshiharu Ueki, said the oneworld carrier was considering firming up an unspecified number of its 25 options for A350 aircraft to expand its international network, particularly from Tokyo’s downtown Haneda Airport.
Ueki said JAL is especially keen to grow its North America to Southeast Asia via Tokyo business, including potential flights to the U.S., but also to Cambodia and Myanmar.
The JAL boss said India was “becoming very important within Asia,” and added demand was “increasing without a doubt”. As a result, JAL would like to “deepen tie-ups and increase flights” to India. The legacy airline recently signed a codeshare deal with India’s full service carrier, Vistara.
JAL remains determined to acquire more Haneda slots. The carrier was disappointed during the last round of slot allocations, in 2013. Rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) received more slots than it did.
Later this year, 26 new slots at Haneda are being offered to Japanese carriers, Ueki said. “We want them to be distributed fairly,” he said. “Haneda is very important for us. It’s an international and domestic hub and it is overwhelmingly popular with business travellers.”
The more slots JAL receives at Haneda, the more likely the carrier will be to confirm additional A350s.
For now, JAL has 18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s on firm order from Airbus. The -900s will replace its entire B777-200/-200ER fleet, while the -1000s will be one-for-one replacements for JAL’s 13 B777-300ERs. Deliveries will be from 2019 to 2025.
It is noteworthy that JAL will be retiring its B777 fleet before the B767 fleet. The airline received its 17 youngest B767s from 2009 to 2012 to make up for Dreamliner delays. JAL will need to replace the 20 older B767s soon, which also could make the conversion of the A350 options to firm orders more likely.