Resisting the allure of Airbus' A380 superjumbo, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) signaled yesterday that it will turn to Boeing's...

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Resisting the allure of Airbus’ A380 superjumbo, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) signaled yesterday that it will turn to Boeing’s 777 widebody for its large airplane requirements in the foreseeable future.

In a statement describing its three-year plan and future strategy, All Nippon said it will place a new order for two Boeing 777-300ERs and convert a previous order for two 767-300ERs to 777-300ERs.

The fresh order and the upgrade are worth about $660 million at list prices.

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“ANA’s large-type aircraft for the foreseeable future is the 777,” said spokesman Tom Fredo.

The All Nippon strategic plan includes a long-term imperative to reduce its large-aircraft fleet from four to one.

Chances are that one will be the 777. All Nippon operates 26 777s, and with the new order has 18 more scheduled for delivery.

An A380 purchase remains an outside possibility in the longer term, beyond 2010, if the super-sized European jet proves successful elsewhere.

All Nippon President Yoji Ohashi said in December in Tokyo that the airline would watch with great interest the introduction of the A380 by Singapore Airlines in 2006.

All Nippon is already committed to Boeing for its small- and medium-size jets.

In its three-year plan, it envisages eliminating its Airbus A320 narrowbodies in favor of Boeing 737s and replacing 767 medium-size jets with the new 787.

Last year the airline placed a 50-plane launch order for the 787, formerly designated the 7E7.

Japan is a hugely important customer for Boeing and has been solid in its loyalty. Boeing has heavily subcontracted work to Japanese industrial partners, including major 777 work and the wings of the 787.

The other major Japanese carrier, Japan Air Lines, is not yet committed to an exclusive Boeing relationship.

Japan Air Lines is actively considering both Airbus’ A320 and Boeing’s 737 for a massive renewal of its narrowbody fleet. As many as 90 airplanes could be ordered later this year.

A person familiar with the company’s thinking said the airline would prefer to work with two aircraft suppliers. In December, Japan Air Lines placed an order for 30 midsize Boeing 787s.

All Nippon’s conversion of the two 767 orders to 777s could affect the life expectancy of the 767 production line in Everett.

Because the 767-based Air Force tanker deal is on hold after a damaging procurement scandal, Boeing has had to slow production to a crawl. With one jet rolling out every month and a half, the All Nippon order switch shaves three months off committed production.

The company has to provide suppliers with about 18 months warning of the end of production.

Boeing spokeswoman Leslie Nichols said yesterday that the All Nippon 767 order conversion had already been factored into Boeing’s decision schedule. She said that mid-2005 remains the time frame for a decision on whether to keep the production line open.

The 767 backlog is just 23 airplanes. But that includes two remaining All Nippon Airways’ 767-300ERs that are not due for delivery until 2008. If Boeing this summer were to announce an end to production, those orders would likely be converted too.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com