LONDON – All Nippon Airways (ANA), the only five-star airline in Japan, has had the main sections of its Airbus A380 arrive at Toulouse today for final assembly.
It will be the first of three A380 superjumbos that the airline will receive after it became the first Japanese carrier to order them back in 2016.
ANA has said the plane will be used initially on the Tokyo-Honolulu route which is currently operated by their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The A380 is expected to be delivered in 2019 and will be painted in a special “Honu” Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle livery which is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
The Japanese carrier recently launched a codeshare and frequent flyer partnership with China’s Juneyao Airlines; it is possible that we may see the Japanese carrier use the A380 on new codeshare routes with ANA operating flights to Shanghai (Pu Dong) from Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.
However, ANA has not confirmed any of this so it is also possible we may see the airline take one of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from the Tokyo-Honolulu route and use it on these codeshare flights in favor of keeping the superjumbo on the service it was currently planned.
There is no question that the size of the A380 will allow the airline to possibly try out new features and layouts in their cabin which could see them gain the edge of their rival Japanese airlines.
It yet remains to be seen if there is a market for this aircraft though, with planes like the Dreamliner and Boeing 777 family doing very well in the Japanese market. It is possible that the ANA’s choice to only order three of the superjumbos could be down to them wanting to first test the market without committing to a huge order.
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If ANA is successful with their placement of the A380, it could see the airline hit new heights. The low number of carriers in the Asian market that operate the superjumbo it could give ANA the edge over their rival carriers on specific routes.
However, with the emergence of the A350-900ULR variants, carriers could be more inclined to go for distance rather than the size of aircraft, especially with how valuable the trans-continental and trans-pacific flights are in the industry.