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Business

Japan Airlines and Europe's Airbus strike landmark deal

Japan Airlines has confirmed it has signed its first contract with European plane maker Airbus on the delivery of wide-body passenger jets to renew its fleet. The deal means a serious blow to Boeing.

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Major order from Japan Airlines

Japan's flagship carrier announced Monday it had ordered 31 A350 passenger jets from Airbus in a deal valued at $9.5 billion (7 billion euros).

The purchase agreement included orders for 18 long-haul A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s, with an option to buy another 25 jets in a drive to renew its fleet, according to Japan Airlines (JAL).

The deal followed an intense battle between the world's leading plane makers as Japan's two largest carriers sought dozens of new long-haul aircraft over the next decade.

The battle goes on

For several decades, US competitor Boeing had been able to ward off any attempts by Airbus to secure an order from JAL, benefiting from links with Japanese suppliers and deep political ties between Tokyo and Washington.

But delays to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner planes and their grounding after their batteries overheated had seriously tarnished the image of the US rival and cast doubt on Boeing's ability to deliver aircraft on time.

The battle for orders from Japan between the plane makers now looks set to shift to ANA, which is also looking for around 25 new jets to replace its aging fleet of long-haul Boeing 777s.

hg/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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