The landmark deal for 31 wide-body A350 jets with a combined $9.5bn (£5.92bn) value at list price follows an intense battle between the plane manufacturers such as JAL and domestic rival ANA Holdings seek dozens of new long-haul jets over the next decade.
The agreement with the European group, also a potential blow to a Japanese aerospace industry that builds large portions of Boeing’s jets, includes options for another 25 of the A350s.
“This is a huge win for Airbus and a big loss for Boeing,” said aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton, managing director of Seattle-based Leeham.
“Airbus has been trying to break the wide-body monopoly of Boeing for decades and likewise Boeing has been wanting to keep Airbus out of JAL and ANA.”
Airbus also showed its readiness to move in on Boeing’s turf in the Japanese aerospace industry, including cooperation in research and development.
“With this order, it gives us more momentum to look for potential joint R&D efforts for the future generation of aircraft,” Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, told a joint news conference in Tokyo with JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki.
Ueki did not say what JAL would actually pay for the A350s, which vied with Boeing’s yet-to-be-launched 777X, but industry analysts said it would be typical to secure generous discounts to the list price in such a groundbreaking deal.