The first A350 of an order of 31 units from Japan Air Lines (JAL) has rolled out of the paint shop at Airbus in Toulouse this week. The wide-body of the -900 variant will now undergo ground and flight tests before being delivered to the Japanese airline by the end of June.
According to Airbus, “the A350-900 will initially be operated on major domestic routes, with a three class configuration seating 369 passengers”.
In total, JAL ordered 18 A350-900 and 13 A350-1000 in 2013 to replace the Boeing 777-200 and -300 in its fleet, in a heavy blow to the American manufacturer that had the preference of the Japanese until then.
JAL was one of the largest operators of the 747, of which it had 108 aircraft. But the financial crisis that happened in 2010 and that led to filed for bankruptcy protection made the company retire the model and leave several routes uncompetitive.
Airbus from JAS
The purchase of the A350 was the first direct order made by JAL to Airbus. But it will not be the first jets of the European manufacturer that will fly with it. In the 2000s, JAL inherited the Airbus A300 fleet from Japan Air System (JAS) which merged with it.
JAS was Japan’s third largest airline at the time and even used a painting copied from the prototype of Airbus, among others. The A300, however, flew until 2013 at JAL which has since operated its international flights with the 777 and 787.