29 December 2013

A350 XWB in Japan. JAL´s 4-class “Sky Suite” configuration leaves the A350-1000 as a small aircraft. ANA´s fleet renewal decision in January/2014 has the Boeing 777X as frontrunner despite the earlier availability of the A350-1000.

JAL placed a firm order for 18 Airbus A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s on 7/October/2013, in what Boeing Capital Corporation managing director Kostya Zolotusky characterised as “a heartbreak”, exactly replacing Japan Airlines’ 13 777-300ERs, 11 -200ERs and 7 -300s in one fell swoop.

But Japan Airlines (JAL) still needs 777X for growth under constraints. Because while the 350-seat A350-1000 is consistent with JAL’s strategy to focus on improving traffic mix and yields instead of volume (in addition to early availability of an aircraft that burns 25% less fuel than the 777-300ER in 2019), its 4-class “Sky Suite″ only configures the 368-seat 777-300ER with 232 seats, let alone the smaller A350-1000.

Therefore should Japan Airlines (JAL) seek profitable growth in the future, particularly after the slot allocation at Tokyo Haneda, it would have little choice but to seek a slightly larger aircraft such as the 400-seat 777-9X which may end up carrying only around 300 passengers in the “Sky Suite” configuration.


The other Japanese airline ANA will make a decision for it´s fleet renewal by next month, with the replacement of 22 Boeing 777-300ER target.

Despite the earlier availability of the Airbus A350-1000s beginning in 2019, ANA is favoring the larger 400-seat 8,200nm (nautical miles) Boeing 777-9X as it is compatible with ANA’s future international growth profile under severe slot constraints over the next 20 years, and also partly owing to its cozy relationship with the Japanese government.

As the first 777-9X is not expected to enter into service until the second quarter of 2020, the availability of more, not fewer 787 Dreamliners is essential in winning ANA’s order, since the airline still has 50 767-300 or -300ER passenger aircraft in its fleet despite having 23 787-8s in its fleet and another 13 on order. More of the domestically-configured 787-8s with 222 seats are required, while the 30 787-9s on order are likely to replace its fleet of 16 777-200s.

A combination of around 20 777-9Xs and a similar number of 787s is likely to be included in the package offered to ANA (as per Aspire Aviation informations), including the 320-seat 6,000nm 787-10 that would be ideal for domestic trunk routes, Southeast Asia routes and even transpacific crossings replacing the 12 777-200ERs and 7 -300s.

Furthermore, with the announced 787 production ramp-up to 12 aircraft per month by end-2016 and 14 per month by the end of the decade, these 787s could be offered to ANA at steep discount without undermining the 787 program’s overall profitability. For ANA, it could replace a majority of its widebody fleet before the end of the decade without bearing significant delay risks as the 787 program will have been mature by the time the planes ANA ordered are delivered.

“In the past, aircraft development used to be more on schedule, but lately there have been delays. Possible delay is something we will consider,” ANA Holdings Inc. president Shinichiro Ito said.

Based on the article “ANA must show “Inspirations of Japan” published in Aspire Aviation

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