Japan Airlines Co., Japan's largest airline and Boeing Co.'s biggest customer, said today it has ordered 20 Boeing 747-400 jetliners and taken options to buy 34 more.
The deal would total nearly $12 billion if all the options are exercised, said JAL spokesman Sumitaka Kawamura.
The new order brings to 74 the number of orders and options JAL has placed for Boeing's largest jumbo jet.
JAL received five of the 74 planes by March and will receive the rest by 1999 "if our plans are not changed," Kawamura said. The carrier plans to increase its fleet from 100 planes to 170 over the next nine years to meet an expected increase in passenger traffic, he said.
Japan Broadcasting Corp. said the orders will help reduce Japan's trade surplus with the United States.
The 747-400, with a range of 8,400 miles, is one of the world's most sophisticated passenger aircraft. Its computer-aided piloting requires a cockpit crew of only two.
JAL is Boeing's largest customer for 747-400 jets with 40 firm orders, Kawamura said, followed by Singapore Airlines with 29 and All Nippon Airways Co. of Japan with 26.
Making up the JAL fleet, he said, are five 747-400s; 61 Boeing 747-100, -200 and -300 jumbo jets; 20 McDonnell-Douglas DC-10s and 14 Boeing 767 planes.
Besides the 747-400s, Kawamura said JAL ordered 10 McDonnell-Douglas MD-11s last month, with options for 10 more.
The MD-11s are to be delivered between 1993 and 1998, he said.
"So far, we have no plans to make additional orders," Kawamura said.
He said JAL carried 8.19 million passengers on international routes in fiscal 1989, which ended on March 31, up 5.6% from a year earlier, and 13.5 million on domestic routes, up 13.3%.