Wednesday, June 4, 2014

JAL looks to replace Bombardier CRJs and Saab SF340s.

Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) is considering placing an order for regional airplanes to replace older commuter jets and turboprops, according to an interview with JAL Chairman Masaru Onishi in Doha, Qatar.
Bombardier CL-600-2B19 CRJ-200ER JA208J departs Aomori. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

J-Air's (XM/JLJ) nine Bombardier CL-600-2B19 CRJ-200ER and Japan Air Commuter's (3X/JAC) 11 aging Saab SF340Bs are probably the candidates for replacement Mr. Onishi is referring to. J-Air is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JAL, while JAC is controlled 60% by JAL and the remainder by Kagoshima Prefecture and its local governments. The proposal may also include the three SF340Bs of Hokkaido Air System (HC/NTH), in which JAL is expected to increase ownership to 51% during fiscal year 2014.

"The issue will be addressed in the near future," Mr. Onishi stated. Competition for regional jets is likely to involve three companies: Mitsubishi, Embraer, and Bombardier. The Canadian manufacturer and ATR are likely to battle over the turboprop order. Last year, JAL shook the industry by placing a landmark 9.5 billion USD order with the European planemaker for up to 56 Airbus A350 XWBs, including 31 firm examples, to replace their Boeing 777 fleet, after decades of loyalty to the American company.
Meanwhile, orders for the A320neo or 737 MAX have been ruled out for the near term, as the airline has judged its 50-strong 737-800 fleet is still in good shape. 70% subsidiary Japan Transocean Air (NU/JTA) also just placed an order for a dozen 737-800s (JTA finalizes order for 12 Boeing 737-800s.) to replace their current 737-400s starting in 2016.

Source: Wall Street Journal, June 2nd. (in English)

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