Saturday, October 11, 2014

ANA to expand Narita international ops in FY2015.

All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA) will expand its international network at Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA) in FY2015, according to Osamu Shinobe, President of ANA speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on October 8th. Although he refrained from giving details, ANA is considering adding five new round-trips that would "strengthen Narita as a major connecting hub between Asia and North America." The five would include new cities as well as frequency increases.
Boeing 767-381/ER(WL) JA624A arrives into Narita. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

On March 30th this year, ANA's international presence at Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT), the preferred downtown airport serving the capital, jumped from 13 round-trips covering 10 routes to 23 round-trips covering 17 destinations (ANA's Summer 2014 international expansion.). Now that Haneda has grown to about 60 - 70% the size of ANA's Narita operations, the focus is back on Narita, which will gradually increase slots, while Haneda will not see any more slots available in the near term.

"We will continue to pursue our Haneda/Narita dual-hub strategy. Narita is an important international hub and we will continue to grow there," added Shinichiro Ito, President and CEO of ANA Holdings, parent of ANA. The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) enforces an unspoken rule that all carriers flying international routes out of Haneda must fly to that country from Narita as well. Asked about what is commonly referred to as the 'Narita rule', Mr. Ito told "It would be best for airlines to have freedom, but international routes are agreements between two nations and we must respect that."

New overseas partnerships are on the horizon, with Mr. Shinobe revealing "We are considering a partnership with Avianca." ANA will also not hesitate to look outside of Star Alliance, with a new pact reached with Philippine Airlines (PR/PAL) on October 1st and the signing of deeper relations with Brazil's TAM (JJ/TAM), now a Oneworld member, on October 7th. A proposed 3 billion JPY investment in Myanmar's Asian Wings Airways (YJ/AWM) has been shelved after the market became overcrowded, but Mr. Ito said "We will continue to look for investments where there are potential synergies. A few are already on the table for evaluation," without disclosing any. Vietnam Airlines (VN/HVN) is thought to be one of them.

Meanwhile, ANA's first experiment with a red-eye domestic flight this summer on the Haneda – Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH) route (ANA offers red-eye Haneda - Okinawa 'Galaxy Flight'.) saw an average load factor of 82%, and the carrier is considering making it a regularly scheduled flight. 16,000 passengers were carried between July 18th and August 31st on the round-trip flight which is usually a cargo flight that is operated by a passenger aircraft using only its belly space.

Asked whether Japan's raising of sales tax by 3% to 8% from April this year is having an effect, Mr. Ito responded "I'm aware that overall people's spendings have decreased, but for travel, that has not been the case."

Reference: Reuters Japan, October 8th. (in Japanese) 
Reference: Aviation Wire, October 9th. (in Japanese)

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