Business

New ANA president looking to expand international flight business for growth

Kyodo

The newly appointed president of ANA Holdings Inc. has expressed eagerness to expand international flight business to tap into the growing number of foreign travelers.

“The mission of a carrier is to work for people’s travel and business trips,” Shinya Katanozaka said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

Katanozaka will take the helm of Japan’s biggest airline by passenger numbers on Wednesday, when its new business year starts. ANA Holdings is the parent of All Nippon Airways Co.

The new top executive said his company could open new international routes to Istanbul, Mexico City and Sidney, without elaborating further.

He will take over a key strategy that departing President Shinichiro Ito has pursued. ANA is focusing on overseas flight services to offset an expected drop in domestic flight business in the long term as Japan’s population declines. Competition with low-cost carriers is also increasing in the domestic market.

The business model also coincides with the Japanese government’s campaign to double the number of foreign visitors compared with 2013 to 20 million by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Katanozaka, 59, is also considering launching new services connecting Japan with South America, Africa and Central Asia over the next 10 years, he added.

The new top executive said the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan and the Tokyo Olympics will be “big events” offering a major business opportunity for ANA international flight operations.

It is important to attract foreign visitors to other cities than those hosting the sports events.

ANA will take measures to encourage foreigners to take domestic flights, such as by offering attractive airfares.

ANA is also looking to set up a new hub for its international cargo business in Southeast Asia to take advantage of growing demand for Japanese products in the region, he said. Such a strategy is crucial for growth as the cargo business is also one of the major pillars it is focusing on.

As for a potential partnership with bankrupt Skymark Airlines Inc., ANA “can support (Skymark) by providing our experience and know-how in maintaining safe flight operations,” Katanozaka said.

ANA and Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd presented plans last month to take part in Skymark’s restructuring. The struggling carrier will chose a sponsor airline before court submission of a restructuring plan by May 29.

Katanozaka said if ANA is picked as a sponsor, Skymark will remain an independent company deciding routes, services and prices on its own, a key condition that Skymark has stressed since it filed for court protection in January.

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