Welcoming Japan's first A380: ANA's Flying Honu
Quick trip to Toulouse to welcome a very special aircraft.
Special for two reasons.
First, obviously, because ANA’s Flying Honu sports one of the most eye-catching liveries out there.
Second, because this was likely the last “first” delivery of a factory-new A380 to an airline and the very first one to a Japanese airline.
After last month announcement by Airbus that the A380 assembly line is going to be closed and production of the type, discontinued, a number of airlines cancelled their outstanding orders or converted them to other types. Despite the joyfulness of the event, there was, thus, an inescapable end-of-an-era feeling in Toulouse.
Having said that, the A380 remains a formidable aircraft, and certainly a sight to behold.
Some operators such as Singapore Airlines and Qantas are, actually, thinking about cabin refits that will make sure that their A380 fleets continue to provide a top-notch passenger experience for quite a few more years.
And, now, time to say a few things about the spectacular ANA Flying Honu.
In fact, the 3 A380s that ANA is getting from Airbus were initially intended for Japanese airline Skymark. After the latter went bankrupt a few years ago, ANA took over the order.
Japan’s largest airline has found a perfect mission-match for its A380 triad: the strategic Tokyo to Honolulu route. Hawaii is the largest holiday market out of Japan and with the addition of this iconic aircraft, ANA hopes to advance its position in this highly contested market, from 15 to 25% market share.
The novelties are not limited to the exterior. ANA’s investments in this route include a comprehensive marketing and branding campaign, a new lounge at Honolulu airport and new inflight products. These include a state-of-the-art 4-class cabin (with first class), COUCHii seats in economy (that let you raise leg rests to form a bed of sorts) and new menus and vanity kits.
A big day for Airbus and ANA, as makes clear the fact that, both, Airbus CEO Tom Enders and ANA Holdings Chairman, Shinya Katanozaka, presided over a delivery ceremony that counted with a large media presence and was introduced by a spectacular lights and music performance inspired by Japanese traditions.
We could not get onboard, but we were able to get up close with the Honu before it flew to its new Tokyo home.
The design, that resulted that was chosen after ANA made a public request for ideas, represent a Hawaiian turtle (“Honu” is how this animal is called in the Hawaiian language) that brings good fortune.
While this first of ANA’s A380s is painted in several shades of blue, evocative of Hawaiian skies, an “emerald green (that recalls Hawaiis waters) and an orange pattern (for Hawaii’s sunsets) will be soon on their way to complete ANA’s A380 Hawaii team.
You can also check this other piece I wrote about ANA’s Flying Honu delivery on AirInsight.