TOKYO — Japanese full-service carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) took delivery of its first Airbus A321neo Thursday, becoming the launch customer for the type in East Asia. The aircraft will enter commercial service in mid-September, beginning with domestic routes.
ANA already operates 15 Airbus A320 family aircraft including 7 A320s (slated for retirement), 3 A320neos, 4 A321s, and 1 A320neo. It still has 29 more A320neo family jets on order including 4 A320neos and 25 A321neos.
ANA’s A321neo seats 194 passengers in a two-class configuration (8J / 186Y). It will feature the latest Airbus cabin offerings, and will notably be the first ever ANA aircraft to offer seatback entertainment on domestic flights.
ANA had previously operated Boeing’s 737NG as the core of its short haul with a fleet of 43 jets (7 737-700s and 36 737-800s). In fact, throughout its history, ANA has primarily been an operator of Boeing jets. But in March 2014, ANA made a blockbuster move, joining fellow Japanese behemoth Japan Airlines (JAL) in buying directly from Airbus with an order for 7 A320neos and 23 A321neos. While ANA had previously operated the A320ceo, it was still a mostly Boeing airline.
Today, of course, ANA is both a customer for the A320neo family and for Airbus’ A380 superjumbo (an order taken over from former Japanese low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines). It is also one of the largest customers for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and one of the only customers for the re-engined Boeing 777X, so in that sense Boeing still gets the vast majority of ANA’s fleet spend.
In ANA’s fleet, the A321neo has the potential to transform the carrier’s route network, due to its unique combination of range and (limited) seat capacity. In particular, ANA has been more aggressive than JAL in expanding to Southeast Asia (flights that are a bit too long for current generation narrowbody aircraft). Destinations like Vientiane, Bali, Phuket, Da Nang, Cebu, Surabaya, and even Kolkata in India will now be in reach of ANA’s Tokyo Narita (and Haneda) hubs.