Japan's All Nippon Airways, a top customer for Boeing's troubled Dreamliner, said Monday it was considering Airbus's A350 as it looks to replace its Boeing 777 fleet.
"We don't have any rule that we have to stick to Boeing. We don't have any preference," CEO Osamu Shinobe told AFP.
"So if the aircraft that we want is manufactured by any of the manufacturers, we will look into those aircraft and make a decision."
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Transport Association (IATA), Shinobe said the carrier had yet to start internal discussions on the replacement of the 777 fleet.
"Everything is open, nothing is decided," he said, giving no indication of when the internal talks would begin.
"The important thing is for us to make up our mind what kind of aircraft do we really want and then we can start looking at the candidates," Shinobe said.
Earlier in Tokyo, ANA spokesman Motoki Nishinaka said the A350 was a potential replacement.
"We don't deny that it is one of the possible options," he said. "We always study which model would be best suited to our needs."
ANA is the single biggest operator of Boeing's flagship 787, which has been beset by difficulties since the testing phase.
More seriously, the worldwide fleet of Dreamliners, touted for their fuel efficiency at a time airlines are desperately looking to reduce costs, was grounded in January after two next-generation lithium-ion batteries proved defective.
Regulators ordered planes everywhere to be grounded while Boeing worked to determine the cause for the overheating that in one case led to a fire on a parked plane in the United States.
A battery fix was finally approved, even though the US planemaker said it did not know exactly what had caused the malfunction.
ANA resumed full operation of its 787s on Saturday.
The airline's spokesman said the travails of the Dreamliner would be irrelevant when a new wide-body plane is considered to replace the B777.
ANA currently has about 50 777s and nearly 20 A320s.
"Regardless of the 787 issues, the company will choose the model that best suits our business strategy," he said.
Boeing is also understood to have viable replacement models.
ANA operates around a third of the 50 Dreamliners Boeing has delivered.
Airbus has said it has decided to drop lithium-ion batteries for the new A350 aircraft that is in development in favour of nickel-cadmium batteries, which are heavier.
Japan's Nikkei daily reported earlier this year that ANA's rival Japan Airlines is considering purchasing about 20 A350s after 2017 to replace its B777s.
Japanese aviation is seen as something of a fortress for Boeing, which sources a number of parts from manufacturers in the country. Airbus has only around 10 percent of the market.