Japan Airlines Orders 42 Airbus & Boeing Jets, Plans Major Growth

Japan Airlines Orders 42 Airbus & Boeing Jets, Plans Major Growth

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Japan Airlines has just placed a massive aircraft order, which will see the airline acquiring jets from both Airbus and Boeing. Perhaps what’s most interesting here isn’t the order as such, but rather how much Japan Airlines plans to grow its international network.

Japan Airlines orders A350-900, 787-9, and A321neo

Japan Airlines has just ordered 42 jets from both Airbus and Boeing, representing one of the carrier’s biggest aircraft orders ever. This order, which is part of the company’s long term fleet renewal plan, is comprised of the following aircraft:

  • 21 Airbus A350-900s, which will be delivered from 2027 (except one A350, which will be delivered in 2025); these planes will be used for international flights, except the one A350 being delivered sooner, which is replacing the domestic A350 that had an accident at Haneda Airport earlier this year)
  • 10 Boeing 787-9s, which will be delivered from 2027; these planes will be used for international flights
  • 11 Airbus A321neos, which will be delivered from 2028; these planes will be used for domestic flights

This latest order complements Japan Airlines’ order for 21 Boeing 737 MAX 8s in early 2023, as those planes will also be used for domestic flights.

Japan Airlines has ordered more Boeing 787s

Japan Airlines is growing its international network

Historically, Japanese airlines have been pretty conservative with their growth, and much of the fleet renewal that we’ve seen has been for 1:1 replacements of existing aircraft. That’s why I think it’s pretty remarkable to reflect on how this order is largely for incremental growth.

The airline has announced that by 2030, it hopes to increase its international capacity by 1.4x, and that includes both full service and low cost carriers (in this case, ZIPAIR). In particular, the airline sees growth opportunities in North America, Asia, and India. I would imagine that we’ll see some more Japan Airlines 787s transfered to ZIPAIR, to make room for new aircraft at the full service airline.

ZIPAIR will likely get more used Boeing 787s

With that in mind, let’s take a bigger picture look at Japan Airlines’ fleet plans:

  • For it’s flagship long haul routes, Japan Airlines is replacing its Boeing 777-300ERs with Airbus A350-1000s, which are in the process of being delivered
  • Japan Airlines plans to expand its long haul capacity by acquiring 10 more Boeing 787s, as those planes complement the roughly 45 existing Boeing 787s that the airline already has in its fleet
  • The 20 new international Airbus A350-900s represent international growth, as they aren’t replacing any existing aircraft
  • For domestic flights, Japan Airlines has already replaced its Boeing 777-200s with Airbus A350-900s, and then the airline has 42 Boeing 737-800s and 25 Boeing 767-300s; the Boeing 737 MAX 8s will replace Boeing 737-800s, while the Airbus A321neos will replace Boeing 767-300s
Japan Airlines is taking delivery of Airbus A350-1000s

So we’re basically seeing Japan Airlines’ long haul fleet grow by around 30 aircraft, in the form of 20 Airbus A350s and 10 Boeing 787s. I’ve gotta say, Japan Airlines has some pretty snazzy fleet plans. The airline will eventually fly just Airbus A350s, Boeing 787s, Airbus A321neos, and Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

Now, with Japan Airlines having recently introduced its spectacular new first class, I’m sure many people are wondering if the airline will install this first class on any of its newly delivered Airbus A350s (I can’t imagine it will be installed on Boeing 787s). We don’t officially know one way or another, though my guess is that we won’t see that, and that instead that product will only be available on the carrier’s small flagship A350-1000 fleet.

Japan Airlines Airbus A350-1000 first class

Maybe A350-900s will get the same business class product as on the A350-1000s, but I think it’s unlikely that we see a first class cabin.

Japan Airlines Airbus A350-1000 business class

Bottom line

Japan Airlines has ordered 42 jets, including 21 Airbus A350-900s, 10 Boeing 787-9s, and 11 Airbus A321neos. The A350s and 787s will be used for international growth, while the A321s will be used for domestic fleet renewal. I’m happy to see that Japan Airlines plans to grow its international network considerably, so I’m curious to see what routes we see added in five or so years.

What do you make of Japan Airlines’ aircraft order?

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  1. RF Diamond

    It's good to see a great airline like JAL wanting to expand internationally.

  2. Duc Nguyen Guest

    IMO, JL will transfer the 788 without skysuite to Zipair and some new 789. They will upgrade routes served by 767-300ER to 788 with skysuite and then upgrade 788 to 789 Skysuite. The reverse herringbone 789s continue flying some routes as ussual and the new A359 will be subtituted the 789 Skysuite. The routes I believe will receive A359 are: LHR, HEL, FRA, LAX, SFO, ORD, SYD, BOS. A few of 788 will be used...

    IMO, JL will transfer the 788 without skysuite to Zipair and some new 789. They will upgrade routes served by 767-300ER to 788 with skysuite and then upgrade 788 to 789 Skysuite. The reverse herringbone 789s continue flying some routes as ussual and the new A359 will be subtituted the 789 Skysuite. The routes I believe will receive A359 are: LHR, HEL, FRA, LAX, SFO, ORD, SYD, BOS. A few of 788 will be used as a test for new route until being replacing by 789 with same cabin.

  3. Ted Guest

    Love JAL - hope they will add a flight to PDX! PHX probably makes the most logical sense though. Or maybe SFO/SEA to KIX

  4. Tim Dunn Diamond

    There are Airbus people heading out to celebrate already. Unlike what we heard from a certain airline CEO regarding 787s, there has always been production capacity for A350s and B787s and Airbus has had a banner 15 months on the A350.
    For JAL, adding the A350-900 to longhaul flying was a given.
    There will be some 787s because Japan, like S. Korea and a whole lot of other countries need to have good relations with Europe and the US.

  5. A220HubandSpoke Member

    When JAL was in bankruptcy Tim Dunn said that Delta would finish them off "once and for all."

    I'm still waiting.

    1. Tim Is So Done Guest

      Tim is a fan of revisionist history. He’ll say he never said that!

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you are an angry person that lives in a past that you don't even accurately recreate and can't face the reality of today.

      A tad sore that AA's Japan network on its own metal (the part that is flown by AA employees) is half the size of DL's?

    3. A220HubandSpoke Member

      Diagnosed as angry by Doctor "Delta" Dunn. Thanks you for the diagnosis sir.

    4. Tim Is So Done Guest

      Nope. Just pointing out that you revise history.

    5. A220HubandSpoke Member

      The Tim Dunn alts- sorry defenders are getting more annoying than Tim Dunn himself.

    6. Tim Dunn Diamond

      nobody is defending me.
      They are tired of your childish inability to deal with reality so you drag out the past that, at best is revisiionistic.

      You bet on the wrong horse. Your feeble attempts to silence me have utterly and completely failed.

      Your horse will be sent to the glue factory at daybreak.

  6. roger Guest

    Hopefully JAL will establish more service to the US in concert with their Joint Business partner AA........places where AA is unlikely to ever begin service to Japan. Would like to see PHL,MIA,BNA,AUS,PHX or LAS added where JAL can offer their longhaul product and then tap into the AA Network for domestic service. The West Coast seems covered with probably PDX the only city missing from the map.

    1. jeff rivera Guest

      I wish JAL offer service from Dulles. ANA and KAL needs competition for Asian routes. They are charging so much more compare to flying from JFK.

    2. A_Japanese Gold

      JAL once served IAD on March 1991 with thrice weekly service but it was short lived because of the burst of bubble economy etc. PDX could be served by ZIPAIR - maybe PHX or MIA could be on the radar?

    3. LACLongHauler Guest

      I think the potential value of flying to PHX would be the connectivity with AA. I don’t believe Zipair has same Interline partnership as JAL?

      I put my money on AUS, PHL, YYZ.

    4. W Gold

      I definetly think MIA is a given. There is demand for nonstop flights between MIA and Tokyo. And JAL can also offer one-stop connections to much of South America and the Carribbean. There also aren't any JAL routes to the South Eastern U.S. (the closest destinations are Dallas, Chicago, and New York), so I imagine JAL could also efficiently offer connections from MIA to this region. No airline serves the South East U.S. to Japan,...

      I definetly think MIA is a given. There is demand for nonstop flights between MIA and Tokyo. And JAL can also offer one-stop connections to much of South America and the Carribbean. There also aren't any JAL routes to the South Eastern U.S. (the closest destinations are Dallas, Chicago, and New York), so I imagine JAL could also efficiently offer connections from MIA to this region. No airline serves the South East U.S. to Japan, with the exception of Delta from ATL to HND.

    5. RF Diamond

      Yea MIA should be the next obvious route.

  7. Abidjan Gold

    Hope this expansion will include IAD.

    1. Victor Jones Guest

      JAL used to fly to IAD until mid or late-1990s.

  8. Mike Guest

    I do wonder if this change of direction between Boeing and Airbus are due to several factors
    - current issues that Boeing are having
    - the incident of the A350 which showed the safety level of the aircraft type during such an incident

    If the same principle applies to your other article on recent Korean Air orders.
    Looks like Airbus is having some good times and time for the A350 program celebration...

    I do wonder if this change of direction between Boeing and Airbus are due to several factors
    - current issues that Boeing are having
    - the incident of the A350 which showed the safety level of the aircraft type during such an incident

    If the same principle applies to your other article on recent Korean Air orders.
    Looks like Airbus is having some good times and time for the A350 program celebration which is making progress covering the failure of the A380 program (sadly).

    Cheers!

  9. Lune Guest

    It looks like the replacement cycle for 777s has begun and Boeing is massively screwed with the delays of the 777X. If it had been released 5 years ago as planned, it would have been perfectly timed to replace 777s as they started aging out of service. Instead, it seems that most airlines outside of Emirates are using A350s to replace their old 777s.

    If the 777X program is delayed more than 1-2 years,...

    It looks like the replacement cycle for 777s has begun and Boeing is massively screwed with the delays of the 777X. If it had been released 5 years ago as planned, it would have been perfectly timed to replace 777s as they started aging out of service. Instead, it seems that most airlines outside of Emirates are using A350s to replace their old 777s.

    If the 777X program is delayed more than 1-2 years, then by the time it's released and has a few years to get the initial kinks out, the 777 replacement cycle will probably be >50% complete. At which point it could very well enter a death cycle where there aren't enough orders to justify further investment in the program, while the A350 program motors along on its larger order base, and the competitive difference gets bigger and bigger.

  10. T- Guest

    Another significant aircraft order Boeing lost out on. Significant because Japan Airlines was once very committed to Boeing. The few Boeing planes that were ordered seem to be headed to Zip. How bad can a company be when it loses its most loyal customers? This is definitely a case of how not to do business. Airbus has better products across the board.

  11. Jim Guest

    Given the slot constraints and strictly-enforced curfews at Japanese airports, is fleet size a relevant constraint to growth?

  12. Tim Done Guest

    JAL clearly is an airline that is well behind Delta. Delta has been flying 350-900 on International for years. Delta is the leading airline on the Pacific and JAL is just playing catchup.

    1. Tim Duh Guest

      Correction - leading airline across the globe

    2. Tim Done Guest

      Leading airline across the Universe. My mistake.

    3. A220HubandSpoke Member

      How will JAL compete with Delta to Tokyo? Japan Airlines is screwed!

    4. Tim Bruh Guest

      To even say that JAL are behind Delta would be an incredible honour. You know, in the universe, there are a galaxy of airlines following Delta's lead. The fact that JL/NH never introduced Basic Economy shows their short sight which is now haunting them for RASM. At Timmy Fancy, we publish global airlines' RASM data by region, market, and route. Delta are clearly a leader across the board.

  13. Jacob Guest

    Awesome. Can’t wait to fly on their new Airbus A350-1000 in January next year.

  14. JN Guest

    Big W for Airbus, I guess (though Boeing didn't completely lose their once a loyal customer). What I'm mostly interested though, is what kind of seats will they get.

    I'm pretty much of sure that A359s will have the same cabin as A35Ks, just without the first class, but questionables are A21Ns and B789s. Are new B789s gonna inherit the same interior as the existing B789s, or maybe the same as A350s? And will...

    Big W for Airbus, I guess (though Boeing didn't completely lose their once a loyal customer). What I'm mostly interested though, is what kind of seats will they get.

    I'm pretty much of sure that A359s will have the same cabin as A35Ks, just without the first class, but questionables are A21Ns and B789s. Are new B789s gonna inherit the same interior as the existing B789s, or maybe the same as A350s? And will they keep 2-4-2 economy seating? About the A21Ns, will they finally get personal IFE screens like A350s?

    But what I really hope about the A21Ns is that JAL will get rid of 2-3 config 'Class J' (domestic business class). Take a look at ANA where all their domestic planes except DHC-8-400s have Premium Class (domestic business class too, but equivalent of JAL domestic first class). So JAL... please consider upgrading narrow-bodies with first class or keep the Class J but replace the seats with 2-2 config.

  15. Shawn Guest

    Wonder how this week’s interest rate hike (first time in 11 years in Japan) impacts this order.

  16. A_Japanese Gold

    According to Japanese media, JAL CEO said that most of the newly delivered 787-9 will go to ZIPAIR. Deliveries will be from 2027 to 2033.

    JAL still has 9 international 767-300ER, and a few of them are more than 20 years old, so a350-900 could replace them in near future.

    1. Ed Guest

      It will be interesting to see where zipair expands, clearly most be doing something right if the 787-9s are destined there.

      Will be interesting to see if they give Australia a try. It’s always been a fairly popular determination for Japanese leisure travellers but, purely anecdotally, there seems to have been a big boost in numbers post-pandemic. That Jetstar flight to CNS seems very popular.

      Given QLD like a subsidy - OOL or BNE...

      It will be interesting to see where zipair expands, clearly most be doing something right if the 787-9s are destined there.

      Will be interesting to see if they give Australia a try. It’s always been a fairly popular determination for Japanese leisure travellers but, purely anecdotally, there seems to have been a big boost in numbers post-pandemic. That Jetstar flight to CNS seems very popular.

      Given QLD like a subsidy - OOL or BNE might be good for zipair and western Sydney will open around the time these new planes arrive so it will be interesting to see if that fits the model.

      I’d also take a punt on a ski season flight from badgeries creek to CTS. That one seems easy to fill.

    2. A_Japanese Gold

      BNE would be served by JAL - they served BNE till their bankruptcy in 2010, and Brisbane will host Olympics in 2032.

      OOL/CNS would be better fit for ZIPAIR, given more leisurely nature of those cities. Considering CNS already has 2 flights to Japan (VA to Haneda and Jetstar to Narita), while OOL now lacks direct service to Japan, OOL would be likelier, but I could be wrong.

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A220HubandSpoke Member

How will JAL compete with Delta to Tokyo? Japan Airlines is screwed!

2
Tim Is So Done Guest

Nope. Just pointing out that you revise history.

1
Tim Is So Done Guest

Tim is a fan of revisionist history. He’ll say he never said that!

1
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