All Nippon Airways Co. said Wednesday that it will resume flights between Tokyo and Chicago’s O’Hare airport in October as part of its overseas expansion plan in the coming years.
The Chicago route is among the six international routes ANA was forced to cut back on following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
“As we try to sell flight tickets to companies for business trips on blanket contracts, we feel that” customer demand for the Chicago route is high, ANA President Mineo Yamamoto told a news conference in Tokyo.
ANA plans to operate one round-trip flight daily that is expected to generate some 10 billion yen in annual revenue.
Although ANA has a code-sharing agreement with the United Air Lines Inc., which operates two daily flights from Tokyo’s Narita airport, the number of seats secured for ANA customers is not enough to meet the demand from corporate customers, especially from the automotive industry, ANA said.
New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco are the only U.S. destinations ANA currently operates its own flights to from Tokyo.
The nation’s second-largest airline was 32 years behind its archrival Japan Airlines Corp. when it launched regular international flights in 1986.
In an effort to catch up with JAL, ANA drastically expanded its overseas network but was forced to suspend unprofitable routes as the carrier struggled with poor business that started in the mid-1990s and only recently improved.
ANA was able to bring its international operations into the black for the first time ever in fiscal 2004 while the carrier continued to turn profits from international services in fiscal 2005.
As ANA considers expanding overseas, it has been assessing the profitability of each route to see whether there is solid demand for business travelers. The carrier is also taking into account the network covered by Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline coalition, which includes UAL. ANA joined it in 1999.