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Japan Airlines mulls more A350s as it adds India and North America routes

Bloomberg

Japan Airlines Co., which bought its first Airbus SE planes four years ago, is considering adding to its pending order of wide-body A350s as it seeks to increase routes to India and North America.

The carrier has ordered 31 A350s scheduled for delivery starting in 2019 and has options to buy 25 more. JAL may use some of these options to boost capacity for international growth, President Yoshiharu Ueki said in an interview last Thursday in Tokyo.

JAL is beefing up its fleet in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and is trying to secure more takeoff and landing slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport in the same year, Ueki said.

The carrier, which ordered four more Boeing 787 Dreamliners last month, has signed an agreement for code-sharing with Vistara in India, which is forecast to overtake the U.K. as the third-largest aviation market in 2025.

“India is becoming very important within Asia,” he said. “Demand is increasing without a doubt. We want to deepen our tie-ups and increase our own flights.”

JAL got less than half the new slot pairs that rival ANA Holdings Inc. secured last time because it received government assistance while under bankruptcy protection in 2010. There will be about 26 new slots for Japanese airlines at Haneda up for grabs, Ueki said.

“We want them to be distributed fairly,” he said. “Haneda is very important for us. It’s an international and domestic hub and is overwhelmingly popular with business travelers.”