Airbus has handed over the first A380 to All Nippon Airways, in a ceremony which also marks the last new customer delivery for the double-deck type.
ANA is taking three A380s for services between Japan and Hawaii.
Speaking at the delivery event in Toulouse, ANA Holdings chief Shinya Katanozaka said the aircraft would offer a “new level of luxury service to our customers”.
“We believe it will become a game-changer for ANA,” he says.
The aircraft will all carry a ‘honu’ sea turtle livery, in different colours and slightly different appearances.
Its initial aircraft, MSN262, is painted pale blue to reflect the Hawaiian sky with the turtle scheme having open eyes on the forward fuselage.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders says the company’s painting specialists spent 20 days working on the livery.
“It’s one of the most – if not the most – intricate undertaken by Airbus,” he says.
Enders points out that the A380 will be ANA’s first Airbus widebody jet, adding that the airline “will offer a very unique proposition on the busy Tokyo-Honolulu route”.
This aircraft will be put into service on 24 May.
ANA’s second and third aircraft will respectively carry an emerald green ‘Hawaiian ocean’ scheme, with closed turtle eyes, and an orange ‘Hawaiian sunset’ livery with ‘female’ turtle eyes featuring eyelashes.
The second aircraft will be put into operation on 1 July and the third in 2020, says ANA marketing manager for the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions Nanako Murakami.
Once the second aircraft is in operation, she says, ANA will be operating 10 flights per week on the Honolulu route. It aims to gain a 10-point share of seats, over the 15% achieved in summer last year, when all three aircraft are flying.
The A380 is configured with 520 seats in four classes, featuring 137 first, business and premium-economy seats on the upper deck and 383 economy seats on the lower, including a second in the aft cabin comprising convertible couch seats.
Murakami points out that ANA will be making first-class seating available on the Honolulu route “for the very first time”.
ANA’s configuration also includes a “multi-purpose area” in the lower-deck aft cabin. The airline has yet to show off the interior formally, saving the unveiling for a separate event once the A380 arrives in Japan.
Enders briefly referenced the decision to end A380 production, acknowledging that “not every airline” found the aircraft as appealing as passengers have. ANA is the last new customer to receive the type.
But Katanozaka stresses that he has “no concern” over the closing of the A380 production line, pointing out that the carrier has been promised “strong support for maintenance and parts supply”.