When All Nippon Airways firms up today’s order for 20 Boeing 777-9X aircraft, it will vault the new twinjet to within striking distance of the Airbus A350-1000’s current Asia-Pacific order book.

ANA’s announcement today was great news for Boeing, as it also included 14 more 787-9s, which will bring ANA’s 787 fleet to 80, and six additional 777-300ERs.

Airbus received a consolation prize with ANA’s plan to order seven A320neos and 23 A321neos, but it will surely be disappointed that the A350-1000 seems to have been shot down in the Japanese carrier's long anticipated 777-300ER replacement decision.

After today’s news, the European airframer is probably experiencing an increasing dismay at the powerful Asian debut of the -9X, not to mention continued strong sales of the aircraft the A350-1000 is pitched to replace, the 777-300ER. ANA is Boeing's second 777X customer in the region, joining Cathay Pacific which has signed for 21 -9X aircraft in December. When firmed, today's ANA deal will bring total 777X orders in the region to 41 aircraft.

As of 27 March, orders for the A350-1000 by Asia Pacific operators stood at 49 aircraft, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database. These are divided among three carriers: Asiana (10), Cathay Pacific (26), and Japan Airlines (13).

A350-1000 orderbook in Asia Pacific

A350-1000 AP


Of these, Asiana ordered its ten examples in August 2008, as part of an agreement for 30 aircraft that included 10 A350-800s and 10 -900s. Four years later, in August 2012, Cathay converted an order for 16 -900s to -1000s, and also added a firm order for ten additional -1000s.

Airbus had to wait another year before its next Asian -1000 order, which came from long-time Boeing loyalist JAL. In October 2013, apparently in frustration with Boeing’s 787-8 travails, JAL ordered 31 A350s in its first ever Airbus order. Of these, 18 were A350-900s and 13 were -1000s.

In short, it took Airbus six years to build an order book for 49 A350-1000s in the Asia Pacific. Yet just five months after the Boeing 777-9X's debut at the Dubai air show, the new type’s order book is set to reach 41.

Firm orders for A350 variants in Asia Pacific by variant

A350 orderbook AP


In addition to its early success with the -9X at two of Asia’s leading carriers, Ascend data shows that Boeing’s current juggernaut, the 777-300ER, has an order backlog for 83 examples in the region, not including ANA’s planned order for an additional six.

Analysts have said that the region’s other potential 777-9X buyers, namely Singapore Airlines, will be keen to lock in delivery slots for the new type in the early 2020s.

The European manufacturer has been at pains to point out that because SIA holds orders for 70 A350-900s, it could convert its 30 options to the larger variant as a 777-300ER replacement. Nevertheless, SIA has shown no great sense of urgency to replace its longhaul workhorses.

Airbus will, no doubt, keep fighting hard to pitch the -1000 in the 777-300ER replacement competitions of the coming years, but the 777X’s strong showing since Dubai suggests the manufacturer has a tough battle on its hands.

Source: Cirium Dashboard