Airbus Predicts All Nippon Air Will Come Back to Buy A350 Model

May 20, 2014 9:24 am ET

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus, which has struggled to build a presence in Japan, is confident that ANA Holdings Inc., the country’s largest airline, will order its A350 wide-body even after opting for a competing Boeing Co. model this year.

“It’s inevitable that the A350 will also fly with All Nippon,” Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said in an interview today at the Berlin Air Show. “It’s just a matter of when.”

ANA in March awarded Boeing a lucrative wide-body order, while leaving Airbus to round out the carrier’s short-haul fleet with its A320 model. Airbus had previously upset Boeing’s dominance in Japan by pulling in a deal from Japan Airlines Co. for the A350, its newest model slated to enter service later this year.

Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier has set a goal of doubling the planemaker’s market share in Japan by 2020. While Airbus is keen to win new Japanese suppliers, which have traditionally aligned with Boeing, further success in the country doesn’t depend on deeper industrial ties, Leahy said.

“We’ve made it clear that we have openings for Japanese industry, but I don’t think the industrial partnerships are that important,” he said.

Airbus planes use about $1 billion of parts and materials annually from manufacturing partners in Japan.

Japanese companies designed and supplied 35 percent of the structure of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. making the wings, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. assembling a front fuselage section and center wing boxes.

Some of that work is flowing back to the U.S., with the all-composite wing of the upgraded 777 wide-body set to be made near Boeing’s Seattle-area commercial hub, in exchange for union concessions guaranteeing labor peace through 2024.