ANA ups Taiwan hires as tourists trickle back

Kyodo

All Nippon Airways Co. is turning to Taiwanese cabin attendants to promote its services as visitor numbers from the island nation rebound following last year’s natural and nuclear calamities.

ANA said its flights from Tokyo to Taipei will have one Taiwanese attendant from Sunday. The airline provides services between Narita International Airport and Taoyuan airport, about 40 km from Taiwan’s capital, and from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Taipei Songshan Airport.

To this end, ANA will promote eight Taiwanese translators currently working on these routes to cabin attendants, and plans to recruit more in Taiwan to lure passengers.

“We will be able to better respond to requests from Taiwanese travelers because we speak Chinese,” 25-year-old Hu Feng-hsien, one of the eight new attendants, said during a training session.

Hiroko Kawamoto, chief of ANA’s cabin attendant service division, said, “We would like to boost our ability to respond to passenger needs in various languages and demonstrate the Japanese spirit of hospitality to the world.”

Passenger traffic from Taiwan dropped last year in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, but the volume has recently started to pick up.

In the first six months of the year, Taiwanese visitors totalled around 690,000, a rise of 11 percent compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, 1.3 million Japanese visited Taiwan between January and June, up from 1.08 million in 2010.

“One of the factors (behind the rise) is a heightened sense of mutual friendship after Taiwan offered a great deal of support (to Japan) over postdisaster relief efforts,” a JNTO official said.

Japan severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan when it normalized ties with China in 1972. The move later resulted in the termination of air services.

Japan Airlines Corp., ANA’s archrival, resumed flights to Taiwan in 1975 with a dedicated subsidiary, Japan Asia Airways. ANA resumed services in 1994 via Air Nippon, which fully merged with the parent in April.

Japan Asia Airways started hiring Taiwanese cabin attendants in 1976 and since its 2008 merger with JAL, up to two have been manning its flights to and from Taiwan.