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Japan Airlines Orders 21 Boeing 737 MAX 8 Planes

The Japanese carrier has selected the Boeing 737 MAX product to replace its existing fleet of 737-800 planes

by Enrique Perrella

March 23, 2023

Render: Courtesy of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Japan Airlines (JAL) has secured an order for 21 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in a deal that represents at least $2.5 billion at current list prices.

The Japanese carrier aims to replace its current fleet of 43 Boeing 737-800 aircraft with the next-generation jet, which seeks to reduce the airline’s fuel and carbon emissions by as much as 15%.

The new planes, expected to join the fleet starting in 2026, will strengthen Boeing’s positioning in the Japanese market. Currently, JAL operates a fleet of 149 aircraft, of which 133 are Boeing jets. Also, competitor All Nippon Airways (ANA) finalized a deal with Boeing for 20 737 MAX aircraft in July last year.

Photo: Japan Airlines, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy of Denisse Leon / Unsplash

Boeing has been the historically dominant commercial aircraft provider in the Japanese market. However, shortcomings with the 787 production line early in this decade tilted the balance favoring the Airbus A350, leading to a massive JAL order for 31 A350 XWB aircraft, which included 18 A350-900s and 13 A350-1000s.

The new Airbus A350-1000s, destined to become JAL’s new flagship, will be introduced on the airline’s Tokyo to New York route later this year.

Yuji Akasaka, president of Japan Airlines, admitted being delighted to select the 737 MAX 8 to replace its current fleet of 737-800 aircraft, which average 14 years of age.

“We look forward to carrying our passengers in the utmost safety and comfort and to moving closer to our 2050 carbon-neutral goals, thanks to a combination of these super-efficient aircraft, operational innovations, and new fuel-saving technologies,” Akasaka said.

As noted by Bloomberg, JAL held meetings with Boeing and Airbus for the replacement of the aging 737-800 fleet. However, fleet commonality was vital for the Japanese carrier, and the 737 MAX 8 was the winning product that tilted the balance in favor of the North American manufacturer.

“The integration of the new 737 MAX will provide JAL with greater efficiency across its short-haul network as the airline continues to upgrade its world-class fleet,” said Stan Deal, president, and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Positive Quarter for Boeing’s Salesbook

The order for 21 Boeing planes from the Japanese carrier adds to the recent massive order placed by the Saudi government for Saudia and its new startup, Riyadh Air.

The new Saudi carrier committed to purchasing 39 Boeing 787-9s and signed options for 33 more planes. Similarly, Saudia Airlines confirmed an order for 49 Boeing 787-9 and -10 Dreamliners, boosting Boeing’s presence in Saudi Arabia with two landmark orders for its 787 product.

Photo: Courtesy of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Likewise, in February, Boeing scored a gigantic order for 220 aircraft for Air India, including 190 737 MAX aircraft, 20 787 Dreamliners, and ten 777-X wide-body planes.