Japan is a strategic country for Airbus, with a growing presence in every sector of the market and an increasingly strong industrial footprint.
Today, the Airbus customer base in Japan includes All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL) and Starflyer. Airbus aircraft are also the preferred choice of low-cost carriers in Japan, with the A320 Family flying with Jetstar Japan and Peach Aviation.
ANA is the longest-standing Airbus customer in the country, having first ordered the single aisle A320 back in 1987. In 2014 and 2015, the carrier placed a major order for 37 more aircraft, including 11 A320neos, 22 A321neos, and four A321ceos. Delivery of the new aircraft began in October 2016, bringing new levels of efficiency to the airline’s domestic and regional operations. In addition, ANA Holdings purchased 18 A320neo Family in 2019 for operation by its low-cost subsidiary Peach. The company placed an order for three A380s in 2016 and ANA started its first A380 operation on the Tokyo-Honolulu route in May 2019.
In 2013, Airbus recorded a milestone in its relationship with Japan when JAL selected the A350 for its future long haul widebody fleet. The order includes 18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s, plus options for a further 25 aircraft. This was the first direct order received by Airbus from JAL, which started its A350-900 operation in September 2019.
In the fast-growing low-cost sector in Japan, Airbus today enjoys over 90 per cent market share with 64 aircraft from the best-selling A320 Family now in the fleets of Jetstar Japan (25) and Peach Aviation (39).
In addition to the airline market, Airbus aircraft are popular assets with aircraft leasing companies around the world. Among these, Japan’s SMBC Aviation Capital, one of the world’s largest lessors, boosted its total order book for the A320neo Family to 181 aircraft after signing a firm order for an additional 65 A320neo Family in January 2019.
The Japanese financial market remains a key partner for Airbus in providing innovative and competitive financing to airlines. The Japanese operating lease and banking market has been a strong contributor to Airbus delivery financing. Airbus Japan K.K. is Airbus’ 100 per cent-owned subsidiary, which manages the company’s relationship with airlines, industrial partners and other key stakeholders in the country.
Airbus Helicopters leads the Japanese market with over 50% market share in the civil and parapublic sectors, and over 370 helicopters in service with 100 customers. These include the Ministry of Defence, Japan Coast Guard and other government agencies. Aero Asahi, Nakanihon Air and Toho Air Service lead a list of prominent commercial and private operators.
Airbus Helicopters Japan is the only foreign manufacturer in Japan that has maintenance facilities, offering a strong suite of helicopter products and turnkey solutions across EMS, law enforcement, ENG and parapublic segments. Its Kobe facility also acts as the Asia-Pacific regional hub for engineering, blade repair, and H135 helicopter training, equipped with a full flight simulator.
Airbus Helicopters marked 60 years of long-standing partnership with Japan in 2020. The relationship began with an Airbus Helicopters’ predecessor company, Sud Aviation, entered into an exclusive distributorship agreement with Japan’s Nozaki & Co., Ltd. in 1960. The company’s first helicopter – an Alouette II – was delivered in 1961.
A new additional hangar in Kobe was completed in the beginning of 2020, becoming the largest footprint in the aviation business sector of the Kobe Airport. Its overall capacity has increased by 60 per cent.
Airbus Helicopters believes in developing stronger long-term local industrial partnerships and becoming a major player in the defence market. Today, Airbus Helicopters is successfully supporting the Army, Navy-PBL with high aircraft availability and customer satisfaction.
Defence and Space
Airbus is contributing to Japan’s successful space sector by supplying state-of-the-art components for Japanese satellites, with several space technologies developed in Japan. Airbus has strong relationships with NEC Space Technologies and Mitsubishi Electric Co., and procures advanced components with Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd.
In 2019, Airbus and Japanese telecommunications satellite operator SKY Perfect JSAT signed a cooperation agreement for the third SpaceDataHighway node, which is to be positioned over the Asia-Pacific region before 2025.
More than 100 major Japanese companies are working with Airbus on various programmes. Partners include some of Japan’s most reputable industrial names, including SUBARU, JAMCO, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, ShinMaywa, Teijin and Toray.
One of the largest collaborative projects with Japan has been the joint development and production, with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, of the H145 / BK117 twin engine light utility helicopter. The best-selling H145 family (BK117, EC145 and H145) has more than 1,350 helicopters in service around the world and has clocked more than 5.5 million flight hours.
Airbus Helicopters Japan is the first foreign-affiliated company in the Japanese aeronautic industry authorised by METI as a R&D hub centre.
Research and Technology (R&T) is another area for cooperation between Japan and Airbus. In this area, Airbus has been working with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Japan’s R&D Institute of Metal and Composites for Future Industries (RIMCOF), and other institutions and universities. Forging ties between Japan and Europe benefits both sides as a way to diversify and strengthen its own industrial cooperation.
In 2018, Airbus and the University of Tokyo signed an agreement for Airbus Global University Partnership Programme designed to optimize its worldwide university engagement in the development of engineering leaders, experts and innovators of the future.
Airbus is fully committed to strengthening its presence in Japan by exceeding the expectations of our customers and offering opportunities to develop further mutually beneficial partnerships.