Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has set up an internal committee to formally consider whether to order ultra-large aircraft, in a move that is expected to soon lead to requests for proposals (RFPs) to Airbus and Boeing.
A spokesman for the Star Alliance carrier says from Tokyo that the New Aircraft Selection Committee was formally established yesterday. It is tasked with evaluating the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 and making a recommendation as to “whether we need an aircraft of that size at all”.
Airbus and Boeing have been waiting for years for a Japanese carrier to formally consider orders for ultra-large passenger aircraft and the establishment of the committee is a major development, as ANA typically issues RFPs soon after setting up such committees for its aircraft evaluations.
The spokesman says it is unclear when an RFP will be issued if the committee determines there is a place in the carrier’s fleet for an aircraft in the ultra-large size category. However industry sources told ATI last month that ANA had indicated to suppliers that its RFP would be issued soon.
ANA had long said it did not see a role for ultra-large aircraft in its fleet but earlier this year revealed that it would be looking in the near future for large widebodies to replace its remaining 747-400s from 2012. It has already been replacing 747-400s with 777-300ERs.
The carrier has not said how many ultra-large aircraft it may be interested in, but most industry observers expect it to be for between five and 10 aircraft.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news