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Airbus Lands a Punch on Boeing With First Japan Deal

JAL's order of 31 A350's is a blow to Boeing, but no knockout
The wingtip of an Airbus A350
The wingtip of an Airbus A350Photograph by Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Airbus today claimed a prize that has eluded it for decades: a deal with a major Japanese carrier, a first for the European airplane maker.

The order from Japan Air Lines for 31 Airbus A350s ends Boeing’s near-monopoly in Japan and upends the U.S. manufacturer’s strategy in the region. Boeing had bet heavily on maintaining its relationships by awarding Japanese companies an unprecedented 35 percent of design and construction contracts on its 787 Dreamliner, a plane that competes against some A350 models.  With the loss of the JAL order, “their key strategic alliance is broken,” says Richard Aboulafia, vice president of the Teal Group aerospace consultancy.