Giant Japanese airline All Nippon Airways is expected this week to reveal plans to resume flights between Sydney and Tokyo after an absence of 16 years.The bold move by ANA, disclosed initially by Australian Business Traveller, has also been discussed in the Australian Financial Review and by other aviation sources.
ANA, a member of the Star Alliance, is set to launch daily flights between Sydney and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from October, using a B787-9 aircraft. It will challenge Qantas and its partner Japan Airlines (JAL) on the route. The Qantas Group has the bulk of market share on the Australia/Japan route.
In his blog on Crikey.com.au, aviation reporter Ben Sandilands points out that the ANA move should add to competitive pressure on Qantas to make sure its 787-9s are “as generous in seat pitch and width as its full service competitors on the Japan routes”.
ANA will use its 215 seat version of the Boeing 787-9 on the Sydney-Tokyo (Haneda) route, offering business class, premium economy and economy seating.
Sandilands says ANA will use the much criticised nine-across economy format for the Dreamliner “but with very generous legroom, as much as 10-12.5 cms longer than in many 787 operations, including by Qantas low cost subsidiary Jetstar, which operates the smaller -8 version of the Dreamliner packed with 335 seats.”
ANA’s re-entry to the Australian market comes as Qantas raises its own profile on Japan routes. The Australian carrier is adding capacity by flying daily A330 services between Brisbane and Tokyo. Its low-cost offshoot Jetstar flies to Japan from Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Cairns.
In August, Qantas will move its Sydney-Tokyo flights to Haneda – which is nearer to downtown Tokyo than the more distant Narita International Airport.
JAL flies daily between Sydney and Narita.
ANA is Japan’s largest airline and its return to Australia is sure to be welcomed by the tourism industry. It will help redress the underperformance of the Japanese market. The number of Japanese visitors to Australia fell 0.1% to 323,900 in the year to May, year on year, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reveals.
Travel by Australians to Japan, however, is on a roll and the arrival of ANA should boost that trend.
Written by Peter Needham