Airbus in Japan
Airbus’ commercial and industrial presence in Japan has grown considerably in recent years, underscored by key partnerships in support of the company’s entire product line of modern, efficient jetliners – including its 21st century flagship A380 and next-generation A350 XWB widebody – along with an increased number of aircraft bookings by the market’s airlines.
Japan Airlines signed a milestone purchase agreement for 31 A350 XWB aircraft in 2013, the historic first direct Airbus order for the nation’s flag carrier, which also becomes the initial customer for this next-generation widebody in Japan.
Further reinforcing the expansion of Airbus’ Japanese customer base was Skymark Airlines’ agreement for four A380s signed in early 2011, and followed on with a contract for an additional two double-deck jetliners later in the same year. Skymark Airlines also plans to lease 10 A330 family aircraft.
In addition to its growing success in the widebody market, Airbus’ single-aisle product line has become a cornerstone for the nation’s emerging low-cost carriers, maintaining a 100-per cent market share as of October 2013. Highlighting this popularity, the 100th Airbus aircraft for a Japanese carrier was delivered during March 2013, marked by handover of an A320 for low-cost operator Jetstar Japan.
Airbus also has fostered strong industrial partnerships in Japan for all of its current production aircraft – from the A330 and A350 XWB widebody families to the single-aisle A320 and flagship A380 jetliners – reflecting its confidence in Japanese skills, reliability, technological leadership and quality standards.
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 in 2010 to supply carbon fibre for the company’s aircraft. In total, Japanese partnerships with Airbus range from 17 companies for the double-deck A380, to 12 each for the A320 and A330 Families, as well as four for the next-generation A350 XWB widebody.
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.
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.