2/21/1971: ANA Spreads Its International Wings

2/21/1971: ANA Spreads Its International Wings

DALLAS — Today, in 1971, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (NH) operated its first international air service to Hong Kong.

After Japan lifted the ban on civil aviation in April 1952, a new domestic carrier, All Nippon Airways, or ANA, was established. Charter and scheduled services commenced in October of the following year. 

A ceremony was held to make the special flight. Photo: ANA

Growing Network


During the 1960s, the carrier developed an extensive domestic network across Japan. The addition of turboprops such as the Vickers Viscount and Fokker F27 saw passenger numbers reach one million by 1962. 

In May 1964, the airline entered the jet age with the arrival of its first Boeing 727s, put to work on its busy Tokyo-Sapporo service. Growth continued, and by 1970, NH’s revenue passenger miles had increased four-fold to more than 2,700.

Despite its domestic dominance, management at ANA set its sights on international expansion. However, the country’s flag carrier, Japan Airlines (JL), had been given exclusive rights for all international services. 

Wide-bodied airlines were soon introduced to cope with demand. The Lockheed L1011 Tristar was introduced in March 1974, followed by the Boeing 747 in 1976. Photo: Christian Volpati (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

First International Flight


To dip its toes into international waters, ANA flew a charter service to Hong Kong on February 21, 1971. The flight was operated using one of the carriers, Boeing 727s.

Despite pressure from Japanese and US officials, JL continued to hold the monopoly until 1986. Following JL’s privatization, ANA was finally granted the right to operate international scheduled flights on March 3. 

From the initial link to Guam, routes to the United States, Europe, and Australasia soon followed. Five years after operating its first international service, ANA increased its passenger numbers by around 22.5%. 


Featured image: The arrival of the Boeing 727 brought ANA into the jet age, operating both the -100 and -200 variants. Photo: Jon Proctor, used with permission

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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