TOKYO – ANA All Nippon Airways (NH) has today announced it will retire large aircraft operating its domestic routes “ahead of schedule.”

The Tokyo-based airline will temporarily utilize small and medium-sized aircraft for these routes instead. The move will reduce both costs accrued from the COVID-19 pandemic and the airline’s impact on the environment.

This early retirement will drop the usage rate of larger aircraft by 50%, compared to the 2020 Fiscal Year. Smaller aircraft, meanwhile, will see a 30% spike in usage.

The Star Alliance carrier did not mention any particular aircraft in its statement. However, last October, the airline announced that it would retire 22 older Boeing 777 aircraft.

All Nippon Airways (R2B2 livery) JA873A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

In Lieu of an Increase in Demand

Some Boeing 777’s will remain in use for international routes, although NH announced a greater number of these routes will be operated with Boeing 787’s. In the meantime, 16 international routes will be suspended, while service to three routes will be decreased.

ANA expects the core of its earnings to come from domestic operations in 2021. The airline didn’t rule out using larger aircraft for domestic routes in the future, however. the carrier states in its Interim Flight Schedule for Fiscal Year 2021, “When an increase in demand is expected, the company will respond appropriately by…serving the routes with larger aircraft.”

Summer will see an expected increase in travel demand, and the airline will increase flights to Okinawa, Hokkaido, and between Tokyo-Haneda and Miyako. That is, provided the situation with COVID-19 improves.

“ANA will continue to provide updated flight schedules on a monthly basis as it maintains flexible flight operations amid the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” the airline stated.

Featured image: ANA JA741A. Boeing 777-281(ER). Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways