ANA may buy Airbus superjumbos for Japan-Hawaii routes


The operator of All Nippon Airways is considering purchasing three A380 superjumbo jet planes from Airbus SAS, according to informed sources.

ANA Holdings Inc. would likely use the aircraft on routes connecting Japan and Honolulu, the sources said Monday. It hopes to include the plan in its medium-term business program to be released later this month.

ANA would be the first Japanese airline to utilize the European-made double-deck jetliner, which has around 500 seats.

Analysts say, however, that ANA would have to negotiate a lower price for the planes, which go for around ¥50 billion.

Currently, ANA operates two round-trip flights per day between Narita International Airport and Honolulu and one round-trip flight between Haneda airport in Tokyo and Honolulu. For these routes, the airline uses planes with around 200 seats, including Boeing 767s.

The average occupancy rate for the routes stood at about 93 percent in the April-September period last year, far exceeding its overall international average of some 80 percent.

ANA may also use A380s on the route connecting Haneda and Los Angeles, the sources said. Seat occupancy on that route averages 89 percent.

Japan Airlines operates routes linking Narita, Haneda, Chubu International and Kansai International with Honolulu. JAL’s seat occupancy rate for the routes topped 90 percent in the April-November period last year.

If ANA increases its seat capacity on Japan-Honolulu routes by introducing the superjumbos, airfare competition will intensify, a senior JAL official warned.

Skymark Airlines, the third-largest Japanese carrier, saw its contract to buy six A380 planes canceled by Airbus in 2014 after the company failed to make scheduled payments. Skymark filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2015, due partly to the huge penalties for canceling the contract.