ANA leaves door open for A380 despite 777

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All Nippon Airways (ANA) is leaving the door open to a future acquisition of the Airbus A380, despite the fact that it aims to make the 777-300ER its largest aircraft.

ANA operates a fleet of 23 Boeing 747-400s – 10 of which are configured with high-density cabins as “-400 Domestics” for the airline’s Japanese routes. This has made the airline, and its local rival Japan Airlines (JAL), which is also a major 747 operator, prime targets of the A380 sales team, but neither Japanese carrier has yet shown any serious inclination to order the ultra-large airliner.

ANA president and chief executive Mineo Yamamoto told Flight International at a Star Alliance chief executives’ gathering in Montreal last month that its medium-term fleet plan calls for the phase-out of the 747s and replacement by the 777-300ER due to the latter’s superior efficiency. Although it has no plans to acquire the A380 in the medium term, Yamamoto does not rule out an order for the aircraft in the longer term. “If as other carriers introduce the A380 we feel we can’t compete, then we will acquire it, but the medium-term plan is not to order the aircraft,” he says.

The airline is looking to use the 777-300ER’s superior seat-kilometre costs over the 747 to counter rising fuel prices, says Yamamoto: “If the oil price continues to exceed $50 then we’ll replace 747s on European routes with the 777-300ER.”
 JAL has placed a follow-on order with Boeing for five more 777-300ERs and one more 767-300ER freighter. JAL placed the orders several months ago, but the deals were not announced.

MAX KINGSLEY-JONES/MONTREAL