Japan Airlines order a 'great event': Airbus CEO

Monday, 7 Oct 2013 | 1:17 AM ET
Airbus chosen by JAL on 'quality': CEO
Monday, 7 Oct 2013 | 2:30 AM ET
Fabrice Bregier, CEO of Airbus, says that it was the quality of Airbus's aircraft and not the grounding of the rival Dreamliner from Boeing, that led to the deal with Japan Airlines

Airbus' chief executive has hailed its first ever jet order from Japan Airlines, at a list price of $9.5 billion, as "a great event," in a move that marks the aerospace company's entrance into a major aviation market dominated by U.S. rival Boeing.

"Not only have we succeeded in introducing the A350 [to Japan Airlines] but it's the biggest order so far this year of A350s," Fabrice Bregier told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" Monday.

The deal involves the sale of 31 A350 aircraft to Japan Airlines and is worth $9.5 billion based on list prices. The first aircraft will be delivered in 2019, according to the announcement.

The Japan Airlines deal follows a closely fought battle between the Airbus and Boeing aircraft as Japan's two top carriers seek dozens of new long-haul jets over the next decade. Boeing has been trying to secure orders for its yet-to-be-launched 777X model.

(Read more: Airbus deal shows loyalty is fading fast in aviation)

Bregier, who became CEO of Airbus in 2012, said the fact that Airbus had been successful was down to the "quality of the A350" and that the company was looking to invest in Japan in the long-term.

"We were selected on the quality of the A350 family and the fact that here in Japan we decided to have a long-term investment relationship and both factors, I think, allowed us to win this competition," Bregier added.

For decades, Boeing has seen off attempts by Airbus to secure an order with Japan Airlines, benefiting from links with Japanese suppliers and deep political and defense ties between Japan and the United States to maintain a market share of more than 80 percent.

The two aircraft makers are still battling for a similar order at Japan's largest airline ANA, which is looking for around 25 new jets to replace its aging fleet of long-haul Boeing 777s from 2020.

(Read more: Airbus secures commitments from two new Chinese airlines)

ANA's boss, Shinichiro Ito, told Reuters last month that his airline would consider possible delivery delay risks when choosing. Delays to deliveries of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which is one-third built in Japan, and its subsequent grounding because of overheating batteries, have hit the U.S manufacturer's profile.

Airbus's Bergier was hopeful that the Japan airlines deal would encourage ANA to follow suit. "ANA probably has its own criteria and we'll need to go through this campaign to do a good job, and then we will see."

Reuters contributed reporting to this story.

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