19 October 2013
ANA´s battle for 30 Boeing 777 aircraft replacement; A350-1000 against the 777X. It has become a "can't lose at any cost" deal for Boeing.
Attention in Japan has now turned to Boeing's battle with Airbus to supply JAL's rival ANA Holdings .
ANA's boss, Shinichiro Ito, said last month that his airline would consider possible delivery delay risks when choosing replacements for its older long-haul 777 jets.
With the world's biggest fleet of Dreamliners and being the first airline to fly the innovative carbon composite plane, ANA has been most affected by delays. The aircraft's grounding this year has resulted in millions of dollars of losses.
Boeing is widely seen as the favorite in that tussle, although some analysts think ANA will buy Airbus wide-body planes to hedge against delay and avoid getting left with older fleets while competitors fly new jets that consume less fuel.
Like JAL, ANA is looking to buy around 25-30 jets to retire its aging long-haul 777s and is considering the A350-1000 and the 777X as replacements.
A win for Boeing would offer a keen incentive for the U.S. company to stay deeply rooted in Japan, and industry sources expect a lobbying backlash as pressure from the aerospace industry's political backers comes to bear.
And at ANA, political pressure may bear more fruit. In a reversal of roles, ANA now enjoys a closer relationship with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a position once enjoyed by flag carrier JAL before its bankruptcy and bailout in 2010.
ANA this month won double the number of new landing slots at Tokyo's Haneda airport, prompting a rare public complaint by JAL that it had been unfairly treated.
After the JAL setback, ANA is fast becoming a "can't lose at any cost" deal for Boeing, whose executives are under pressure to "do everything they can" to win the deal, said an industry source close to the U.S. planemaker.
The United States' close diplomatic ties with Japan, a key U.S. ally in East Asia, could help Boeing's cause, according to industry sources.
But some analysts think ANA will buy Airbus wide-body planes to hedge against delay and avoid getting left with older fleets while competitors fly new jets that consume less fuel. The Airbus A350 is due to enter service in 2015, while Boeing's competing 777X is not expected before 2020.
"For ANA, relying on Boeing for 777-Xs means running the risk that JAL, their direct competitor, will get their A350s as 777 replacements years before ANA does," wrote Richard Aboulafia, analyst at Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia.
"Therefore, an ANA A350 order is likely." But despite last week's victory, Airbus is widely seen as the underdog in the tussle for ANA's business, industry experts say.
The airline has said that it could make a decision in early 2014, and analysts expect it to stick to that schedule.
"The good thing in Japan is that when they commit to a time, they tend to stick to that," said a second industry source, who added that it was going to be a "very busy end of the year and a very busy start to the new year" for both companies.
ANA has received several briefings on both the A350 and the 777X in recent months, and an airline spokesman said that information was still being gathered.
The Japanese airlines are proving to be tough customers for both companies, sources said, asking a lot of questions about the performance of both aircraft.
Based on the article “Airbus versus Boeing Japan battle switches to ANA” published in Reuters