UK: Rolls-Royce boosted by record Japanese Airlines order for Airbus A350 jets

Rolls Royce in Derby.

Rolls Royce in Derby. - Credit: PA

Aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus has announced its largest ever order from a Japanese airline in a major boost for British engine maker Rolls-Royce.

Japan Airlines (JAL) is buying 31 A350 wide-body jets, which have a combined list price of nearly £6 billion, and has agreed options for a further 25 aircraft.

The planes will be equipped with Rolls’ new Trent XWB engines when they are rolled out from 2019, replacing the airline’s fleet over six years.

Built in Derby where Rolls employs around 11,000 people, the UK firm claims the engines are the most efficient flying today.

JAL is thought to have chosen the A350 over Boeing’s yet to be launched 777X planes, which will be powered by General Electric of the US.

The deal is also a boost for jobs in North Wales, where Airbus employs around 1,000 people to build wings for the A350.

Boeing, which has long dominated the Japanese aviation market, has been dragged down in recent months by safety and technical issues over its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

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The 787 Dreamliner uses Rolls’ Trent 1000 engines, and the British firm said the Japan order now means the Trent XWB is the largest selling product in its Trent portfolio.

Airbus hailed the deal as a “new chapter” with the airline.

“It fills us with pride to see a leading Japanese airline start a new chapter with us,” said Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier.

“This highlights a very bright and flourishing future for both of us, JAL and Airbus.”

The group has secured more than 750 orders for the jets to date and, after completing its first test flight in June, aims to start delivering them to customers by the end of next year.

Airbus employs 10,000 people in the UK in engineering, manufacturing and support roles.