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Airbus in Japan

A growing success story

Japan Airlines became the first Japanese carrier to order the A350 XWB with its purchase agreement for 31 aircraft – covering both A350-900 and A350-1000 versions – announced in October 2013.
Japan Airlines became the first Japanese carrier to order the A350 XWB with its purchase agreement for 31 aircraft – covering both A350-900 and A350-1000 versions.

Airbus’ commercial and industrial presence in Japan has grown considerably in recent years, with an increased number of aircraft bookings by the nation’s airlines for both the company’s market-leading widebody and single-aisle product lines. 

Japanese airlines are looking to the future with Airbus’ latest all-new widebody products: the highly efficient A380 and A350 XWB jetliners. In a significant endorsement for the A380, a purchase agreement from ANA Holdings for three of these 21st century flagship jetliners was announced during January 2016. With the order, ANA Group joins the global customer base of world-class airlines that have selected the aircraft type, and will become the first Japanese A380 operator. 

This significant order builds on another Airbus milestone in Japan: Japan Airlines’ purchase agreement for 31 A350 XWB aircraft in 2013. Marking the historic first direct Airbus order for the nation’s flag carrier, Japan Airlines also became the initial Japanese customer for this new-generation widebody. 

In addition to its continued momentum in the widebody market, Airbus’ single-aisle product line has become a cornerstone for the nation’s emerging low-cost carriers – including STARFLYER, Peach Aviation, Jetstar Japan, Vanilla Air and AirAsia Japan. Highlighting this popularity, the 100th Airbus aircraft for a Japanese carrier was delivered during March 2013, marked by handover of an A320 for operator Jetstar Japan. ANA Holdings has also ordered 37 A320 Family aircraft (seven A320neo, 26 A321neo and four A321ceo). 

Airbus has fostered strong industrial partnerships in Japan for all of its current production aircraft – from the A380 to the A330 and A350 XWB widebody families to the single-aisle A320 – reflecting its confidence in Japanese skills, reliability, technological leadership and quality standards.

Cooperation and collaboration

Companies such as Bridgestone, Panasonic, Yokogawa Electric and Minebea contribute to all of Airbus’ current production aircraft, while Toray and Toho Tenax signed a long-term agreement to supply carbon fibre for the company’s aircraft. In total, some 20 industrial partners in Japan support production of the A320, A330, A350 XWB and/or A380, with Airbus continually looking to develop its in-country presence.

In Japan, Airbus also benefits from research and technology cooperation including: developing structural health monitoring technology with Japan’s Research and Development Institute for Metal and Composites for Future Industries (RIMCOF), as well as composite research with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The company’s regional activity is coordinated by its Airbus Japan subsidiary, which is based in the heart of Tokyo, and has responsibility for all local industrial and customer service efforts covering industrial partners and operators alike. 

Making history

Airbus initially entered the Japanese market in 1979 when Japan Air Systems (JAS, now merged with Japan Airlines) ordered a fleet of six A300B2s. These were the first widebody jets to be acquired by the carrier, and were used to meet demand on domestic routes as well as to develop regional operations.

All Nippon Airways became the second Japanese airline to "go Airbus," ordering 10 A320s – which entered service in 1991. All Nippon later took delivery of seven new A321s, which became the first foreign-built civil airliner to gain Japanese type certification. 

These early steps set the stage for Airbus’ continued growth in Japan. As of 2016, Airbus has earned approximately 50 percent market share on new orders from Japanese carriers in the last five years.