November 8, 2010 / 10:11 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Skymark Airlines orders Japan's first Airbus A380s

* Airbus wins four firm A380 orders, two options

* Six aircraft worth as much as $2.1 billion

* Skymark has yet to pick engine maker (Adds detail, list price)

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Japan’s Skymark Airlines 9204.T said on Monday it would buy up to six A380 planes worth as much as $2.1 billion, marking the first time Europe’s Airbus EAD.PA has sold one of its jumbo jets in Japan.

Long dominated by its rival Boeing Co (BA.N), Airbus has struggled for almost a decade to persuade Japan’s two big carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (9202.T), to buy its biggest jet.

The France-based company on its website lists the A380’s average price at $346.3 million.

Flag carrier JAL has never bought aircraft from the European company preferring Boeing planes, many of which are partly built in Japan by a consortium of aerospace companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011.T) and Kawasaki Heavy industries Ltd. (7012.T).

With a share of around 90 percent, Japan remains one of Boeing’s most lucrative markets. The hope for Airbus is that by finally making a big sale it will be in a better position to lure Japan’s two big carriers to buy.

Skymark said in a statement it would use the A380 to ferry passengers on international routes beginning in March 2015, when it will introduce two of the aircraft. Two more will join its fleet the following year with the remaining jets on option.

Skymark’s decision comes as Airbus tackles engine troubles that forced Australia’s Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) to ground its A380 fleet to investigate the cause of an explosion that last week tore apart one of the superjumbo’s engines supplied by Rolls-Royce (RR.L). [ID:nSGE6A6045]

Skymark said it has not yet picked the supplier of the engines that will power its A380 jumbos.

Designed to carry as many as 840 passengers, Airbus’ double-decker aircraft made its maiden flight in 2005 and entered commercial service two years later with launch customer Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIAL.SI). (Reporting by Yumiko Nishitani, Yuka Obayashi and Tim Kelly; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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