Airbus is expected to sell five A380 superjumbo aircraft to All Nippon Airways (ANA), its first sale of the world's biggest passenger plane to a Japanese airline, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.
A sale in Japan would be a big breakthrough for the European plane maker, a unit of European aerospace group EADS, as it has only about 4 percent of Japan's market, compared with a half share elsewhere.
Japanese airlines have bought almost all their planes from Boeing as part of a wider effort to mend trade relations between Japan and the United States after a period of friction in the late 1980s, the Nikkei said.
An ANA spokesman said the airline had set up a committee on Thursday to select a new fleet of large aircraft, but no decisions had been made. He said the committee was examining three options for a new fleet -- the A380 aircraft, Boeing's B747-8, or not acquiring a new fleet at all.
ANA does not know when the final decision will be made, though the airline has repeatedly expressed interest in the A380 aircraft, the spokesman said.
The Nikkei said as surging fuel prices pressure airlines, ANA aims to save fuel by using the A380, which can carry more passengers on fewer flights, while delays in the delivery of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner have also led ANA to consider buying A380s.
The ANA spokesman said among the advantages of choosing the A380s would be fuel efficiency and the potential to tap into robust demand from travelers on North American and European routes.
The paper said ANA is expected to make an official decision around September to buy the A380s, with the total price of five planes estimated at 100 billion yen (US$936 million).
Shares of ANA fell 0.8 percent to close at 391 yen.