ROUTES: Airbus hails JAL’s Boeing defection to A350

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During World Routes, Airbus has been touting Japan Airlines’ selection of the A350 as further evidence that it is the natural Boeing 777 replacement.

JAL has just signed a deal for 31 A350s plus 25, marking its first ever Airbus order. The firm order comprises 18 A350-900s and 13 of the larger -1000 variant, with deliveries beginning in 2019.

“Our discussion with JAL all along was that this was a replacement move for their large fleet of 777s,” says Richard Carcaillet, head of strategic marketing at Airbus.

“The A350 is an aircraft that is a generation beyond the 777 in terms of efficiency. When a stalwart Boeing operator like JAL chooses the A350 that’s purely on the efficiency step change that the A350 brings – about 20% compared with the 777-300ER,” he adds.

The A350-900 began flight-testing on 14 June and is due be certificated in time for deliveries to start by the end of next year. “The A350 is flying very well and very intensely in its flight test and certification programme,” says Carcaillet. “So we anticipate we are on track with the aircraft and with delivery to the customers.”