The profound network impact of ANA’s 787s

Present at the Airbus A380 delivery ceremony to All Nippon Airways – in addition to members of the airline’s cabin crew – were (from left to right): Tom Enders, former CEO Airbus; Shinya Katanozaka, President and CEO, ANA HOLDINGS INC.; and Chris Cholerton, President, Rolls-Royce for Civil Aerospace. The Star Alliance carrier also welcomed its first Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, cementing the carrier’s position as the world’s largest 787 operator, and the first in Asia to operate all three variants.

All Nippon Airways has been a staple of Japanese and international air travel since its inception as Japan’s first private airline in 1952. As one of the founding members of Star Alliance in 1999, the airline connects four continents (Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America) as well as having an extensive domestic route network. India is a market which has seen steady growth for ANA, with the carrier currently serving New Delhi and Mumbai, and has recently announced a new connection to Chennai from October 2019. The airline’s primary focus, however, is premium routes in Japan, Europe and the United States.

ANA sees strong fare performance on US routes; Houston exceeds $2,000

Source: OAG Traffic Analyser

The airline’s top five routes by average fare are all to/from the United States. After a dip in 2015, possibly due to the Yen’s loss of value compared with the dollar, average fares on the carrier’s top five routes have recovered strongly. Houston to Tokyo Narita has become ANA’s first $2,000 route by average fare, and also ranks as one of the longest sectors for the airline at 10,665 kilometres.

Domestic routes ANA’s top premium market, despite rail and low cost growth


Source: OAG Traffic Analyser

With a world-class high speed rail network, and a 500km/h Maglev (Magnetic levitation) line between Tokyo and Osaka under construction, domestic air travel should be on the way out. Yet, because of the geography of the region – with mountainous terrain and long distances between major cities spread across multiple islands – there is still a need and desire for air travel. Sapporo and Fukuoka are in the far north east and south western regions respectively in Japan, and this is reflected in their status as the two largest premium domestic markets for ANA. Despite the impending rail links, Osaka still scores strongly as the fourth-largest premium market for ANA.

ANA initially deploys 787-10 on premium intra-Asian routes; future game-changer to Australia?

According to OAG Mapper, ANA’s new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners are being placed initially on the carrier’s Singapore and Bangkok routes. The aircraft offers 20% lower fuel burn than existing types, which with its high passenger/cargo capacity makes it an ideal replacement for the airline’s older 777-200/300s on thicker routes under eight hours.

Source: OAG Mapper. ANA has initially launched the 787-10 to Singapore and Bangkok, with the carrier’s legacy 777-200/300 fleet being operated mainly on high density domestic routes. With the 787-10’s high passenger and cargo carrying capacity, these are likely routes for it to operate, along with long-haul flights under eight hours – perhaps to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia in future?

What of the A380 – does it have a future on ANA’s Japan – Hawaii flights?

ANA’s announcement that it was ordering three A380s, to be used specifically between Japan and Hawaii, took the industry by surprise, both with the high costs of introducing a new type spread over a fleet of just three aircraft, and at a time where the industry (perhaps with the exception of Emirates) had moved on from the A380. Currently, the airline has received two of its three A380s on order, and is using them exclusively between Tokyo Narita and Honululu. ANA has fitted the A380 with 520 seats in a four class configuration (split 8F/56J/73W/343Y), which suggests the carrier wants to capture both premium traffic between the two cities, and build capacity on the route at the same time. Six airlines currently operate on the route, and ANA is unique in deploying A380s in this way, with rivals such as Delta and Japan Airlines using lower density, but less thirsty Boeing 767s and 777s on the route.

Whether the market can sustain double-daily A380 services remains to be seen, or if this route is a test case for ANA to expand A380 operations further. Perhaps other high demand, premium trunk routes such as Los Angeles and London Heathrow could be the airline’s next A380 destinations?


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