Japan Airlines (JAL) on Wednesday said it had ordered 10 new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft despite a recent glitch that has delayed deliveries of its first Dreamliners, underscoring its role as one of Boeing Co’s most loyal customers
The announcement, part of a five-year plan, is in addition to an existing order for 35 Boeing 787 planes and is part of a capital expenditure programme worth 478 billion yen ($6.1 billion).
JAL said it expects to introduce the new planes from fiscal 2015 on medium to long haul international routes.
“The overall purchase of the Dreamliner now stands at 25 firm orders of the 787-8, and 20 of the 787-9 with twenty options, raising the total order of 35 Dreamliners to 45,” the airline said. JAL, which is emerging from years of restructuring after filing for bankruptcy in 2010 in one of Japan’s biggest ever corporate failures, said it “intends to maximize the competitiveness of the super-efficient Dreamliner”.
“Equally efficient as the 787-8 but with more seat capacity, the unit cost per seat on the 787-9 is estimated to be lower,” the company said in a statement.
The airline said that it “acknowledges challenges posed by Japan’s low economic growth rate, heightened competition from Low Cost Carriers and the downside risks resulting from the European sovereign debt crisis”. Japan’s aviation market has long been dominated by JAL and ANA, but 2012 will see the launch of a number of new low cost carriers that are expected to provide competition to these established marques.
JAL has joined forces with Australia’s Qantas and Mitsubishi Corp. to launch Jetstar Japan, with five routes slated to begin in July.
ANA last year set up budget airline Peach Aviation with a Hong Kong investment fund. Flights are scheduled to start in March. AirAsia Japan, a tie-up between ANA and Malaysia’s AirAsia, will begin flying in August.
The carrier also said in the business plan that it will launch non-stop flights between Tokyo’s Narita airport and San Diego in December 2012 and to Helsinki in March 2013.