JAL and ANA shift widebody orders

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Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) have reshuffled their mid-size long-range widebody orders in recent weeks to reflect the changing fortunes of Boeing 787 and 767 aircraft.

JAL, which served along side ANA as launch customer for the short to mid-range 787-3, has abandoned its order for the type, instead converting 13 of the type it had on order to 787-8s. JAL's total 787 order still stands at 35 aircraft.

JAL was unreachable for comment, however Boeing confirms that the accuracy of its public orderbook.

ANA also has converted some of the 787-3s it has on order to 787-8s. According to Boeing's orderbook, 22 787-8s and 28 787-3s are now reflected, a shifting of two aircraft to the long range model.

ANA's original order that launched the 7E7 in 2004 for fifty aircraft was split between 30 787-3s and 20 787-8s.

Boeing initially planned to have the 787-3 enter service between the 787-8 and 787-9, but suspended design work on the aircraft in favour of allocating resources to the development of the stretched -9 variant. Boeing has always maintained that it plans to build the -3, but declines to publicly specify a timeline, saying only that it will come after the -9.

Boeing says it is remains "committed to developing the 787-3 in partnership with launch customer ANA."

The 787-3 was marketed specifically for the Japanese carriers as it offered a platform for high-density domestic operations to smaller gate-constrained airports.

In addition, ANA appears to have been the responsible party for cancelling five 767-300ER aircraft it had on order with the American airframer.

Boeing's updated orderbook posted 28 May reflected five new orders for 787 aircraft and five cancelled orders for 767 aircraft from unidentified customers.

The reduction in the 767 backlog appears to have come out of a 25 September 2008 order from ANA for nine 767-300ERs, now listed as four.

ANA confirms the changes to its aircraft backlog, and attributes the cancellations to the 787 delivery schedule reducing the need for interim capacity from 767-300ERs. ATI reported in April that ANA had assumed early 787 delivery spots previously held by Chinese airlines, significantly increasing the Japanese airline's early 787s fleet.

"We work very closely with all our customers to understand their evolving fleet requirements," says Boeing. "Occasionally we and our customers make order adjustments that better support their overall fleet needs, while allowing us to successfully manage our production plan."

The initial 767 order by ANA came in response to the near two-year delay in delivery of the first of fifty 787s the carrier has on order.

The nine aircraft, which were part of a compensation package for the delayed 787, were originally set for delivery in 2010 and 2011, said a spokesperson for the company at the time of the order.

ANA was originally supposed to take delivery of its first 787 in May 2008, but Boeing delayed the programme several times after suffering production and design changes that slid first delivery to the Japanese carrier by 22 months to February 2010.

Boeing says that the order for five 787s did come from an existing customer, brining the total backlog to 866 from 56 customers.

The addition of five aircraft to the 787 backlog does not, however, signal that the order was a conversion of 767-300ERs to 787s by ANA.

Boeing adds that the first six flight test aircraft remain unallocated and the five new 787s booked will be production standard aircraft.