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Japan Airlines mulls more A350s as it adds India, America routes

[TOKYO] Japan Airlines Co, which bought its first Airbus SE planes four years ago, is considering adding to its pending order of wide-body A350s as it seeks to increase routes to India and North America.

The carrier has ordered 31 A350s scheduled for delivery starting 2019 and has options to buy 25 more. Japan Airlines may use some of these options to boost capacity for international growth, President Yoshiharu Ueki said in an interview in Tokyo on Sept 28, without specifying a possible number of extra planes.

Japan Airlines is beefing up its fleet in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and is trying to secure more take-off and landing slots at the city's Haneda airport in the same year, Mr Ueki said.

The carrier, which ordered four more Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners last month, has signed an agreement for code-sharing with Vistara in India, forecast to overtake the UK as the third-largest aviation market in 2025.

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"India is becoming very important within Asia," he said.

"Demand is increasing without a doubt. We want to deepen our tie-ups and increase our own flights."

Japan Airlines got less than half the new slot pairs that rival ANA Holdings Inc secured last time because it received government assistance while under bankruptcy protection in 2010. There will be about 26 new slots for Japanese airlines at Haneda up for grabs, Mr Ueki said.

"We want them to be distributed fairly," he said.

"Haneda is very important for us. It's an international and domestic hub and is overwhelmingly popular with business travellers."

Mr Ueki also said:

- Japan Airlines may begin flying to Cambodia and Myanmar

- It's considering more flights to the US so it can offer services from South-east Asia to North America

- The carrier is looking at other aviation-related investments for growth

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