ANA Places Order For 3 Airbus A380s!

While I love the A380 from a passenger comfort standpoint, the plane hasn’t been performing well for Airbus, and is at risk of being a huge money loser for them. Airbus has been pondering discontinuing A380 production, given the lack of new orders for the plane.

A380 works great for Emirates, but other than that airlines don’t really seem delighted by the plane. At least they’re not placing any extra orders, which is what counts.

Why isn’t there more demand for the A380, despite demand for travel constantly being on the rise? It comes down to there being smaller planes out there which are also more efficient, like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. These planes have low operating costs and much lower capacity, allowing airlines to offer more frequencies and also better manage yields.

Qatar-Airways-A350-02
Qatar Airways A350

The sad thing about A380 production potentially ending is that the plane definitely could have a bright future, but it may just be 10-20 years ahead of its time. International travel will get to the point where there will be consistent demand for 500+ seat planes as airport congestion continues to get worse, but it’s just not quite there yet.

Speaking of the lack of A380 orders, there’s finally some slightly good news for Airbus. Japanese Airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has just placed an order for three A380s, which they should take delivery of in 2018. Via Nikkei:

ANA Holdings will order three Airbus A380s as it seeks to expand international service amid a peaking market for domestic flights.

The deal, worth around 150 billion yen ($1.23 billion) based on the market price, would make ANA the first Japanese airline to add the superjumbos to its fleet. The planes are to be introduced in fiscal 2018 in routes to Hawaii and elsewhere.

Ordering A380s for the purpose of flying them to Hawaii? That’s a first among A380 operators. While Honolulu is a huge vacation market for Japanese tourists, it sure sounds like they’re going for a high density configuration.

Admirals-Club-Honolulu-Airport-30
Could Honolulu Airport see the whale jet in a few years?

Perhaps even denser than Emirates’ new two cabin A380s, which seat 615 people. If they are truly just going for a high density configuration, I’m surprised they wouldn’t instead reconfigure a 777-300ER into a high density configuration. After all, there are some 777s out there with 400+ seats.

Emirates-A380
Emirates now operates some two cabin A380s with 615 seats

Clearly there’s more to this deal. Back in August I wrote about the speculation of ANA ordering some A380s. That’s because Skymark (which had ordered some A380s) went bankrupt earlier in the year, and ANA was competing to buy them, primarily because they wanted their slots at Tokyo Haneda.

Skymark
Former Skymark A380

Airbus was one of their creditors, so something tells me this might have been part of the overall deal which gave ANA the edge in wining the Skymark bid.

Bottom line

Having flown the A380s of every airline which operates the plane, I’m excited to eventually have a new airline to try. However, it sure sounds like this will be a high density configuration aircraft. For that matter the order is a bit weird — they’re buying just three of them and plan to operate them to a leisure destination, which sort of defies what most other A380 operators have done up until now.

So I’m guessing this is part of a larger deal they had with Airbus in regards to Skymark, which would make a lot more sense.

What do you make of ANA buying three A380s and using them for Hawaii flights?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Given some of the other crazy high density configs the Japanese airlines have (even for infra-Japan routes) this is not too crazy.

    As you said, as air travel continues to grow perhaps these might become more popular. A long and lean strategy works as long as the airport is not capacity controlled.

  2. This is the kind of news that I come to this site for compared to other sites where it’s just the author complaining about the TSA or something of that nature, thanks for the reporting! Was very curious on the status of the A380 and if anyone was going to order any.

  3. Was kinda hoping they’d put it on their LA route since when I flew them last year, it was on an ancient 777-200 with semi-flat in business class.

  4. The deal was a way for Airbus to settle the thorny Skymark investment and unload three A380s. In order for production to continue 2016 will be the deciding year. The ANA order may have some other airlines think again about ordering some A380s. Hope so. Airbus has made inroads in traditionally Boeing-dominated Japan with a 2013 JAL order for 31 firm plus 25 option A350s, something which shocked Boeing.

  5. As ANA have made clear recently, they are ramping up new (renewed) routes to several Australian ports this year. There is word around that F is back on the agenda on those routes, defying the other airlines operating in this region who agreed to drop First Class from their services. Good!!

  6. This is probably for high density routes like HND-KIX and NRT-HNL, where load is expected in the summer. Really good news, Tokyo is hosting the Olympics in 2020 and everyone can get on the A380s.

  7. Somewhat related to the density comparison: The Air France 777 that was flying from Mauritus to France, and which was diverted due to a bomb scare, had 459 passengers and 14 crew.

  8. Very curious what the future holds for the A380 in Japan. Right now, only SQ operates it in the country. The plane is not allowed at HND in the daytime, but hopefully that changes in a few years.

  9. I can definitely see this going super high density (750+ Y seats). Basically double the capacity of each existing flight, and they’ll probably still fill em up with tourists…

  10. As a lawyer who works with one of the best bankruptcy groups and by far the best airplane financing group in the US (I didn’t work on this deal and I don’t think my law firm did either), I can tell you that 100% ANA had to take some of Skymark’s orders in order to make a successful restructuring.

  11. Japanese people are mostly slim, perhaps their average weight is 130 lbs. So it may be possible to squeeze more people on the ANA A380.

  12. Right. There are rumors that it will be a all-economy A380, with lower deck 4-4-4, upped deck 3-4-3 configuration comprising approx 750-800 seats.

  13. Airbus has all but confirmed there will be a re-engined A380, it’s just how they bridge the production to when that can happen.

  14. I’d bet ANA replaces some of its 777s to the US (LAX/SFO) with A380s. Also, they fill them with many of their popular staggered business class seats that often sell out. ANA will order more A380s and will likely compete in First with a design beyond its First Square.

  15. This order will come as extremely good news for Airbus. Whether ANA takes the two examples already built for Skymark, plus another (presumably from the defunct order from Tranasero), we can only speculate.

    I can’t see three examples being the only order, as I suspect others will follow. I suspect that they may Aldo be used on domestic routes to replace their now retired older cousins, the Boeing 747s, which really packed them in.

    Air Austral had ordered two all-economy Airbus A380s, rumoured to seat 800 passengers each, for routes to Paris, but this didn’t materielise.

    Maybe once the aircraft are successfully integrated into the ANA fleet, it may get JAL to take a look as well. They too, operated high density B747s.

    Well done on an excellent blog. It makes a huge change from reading constant gripes and moans from others out there.

    Happy New Year to you all, from me, here n the UK.

  16. The logic behind your comments are totally sound, given that ANA’s counterparts in Korea, Korean Airlines and Asiana, both operate from Seoul to Los Angeles with ther A380s.

    Having worked in the travel industry for thirty years plus, as a travel professional, I realise that loadings from/to Asia/USA are pretty high, and to utilise an aircraft with more seats, would benefit a carrier enormously.

    I would also be unsurprised to see JAL look at the aircraft too, and after seeing if ANA can succeed with the type, order some of their own.

  17. ANA officially confirmed on January 29 following their board meeting that officially approved to place an order for A380(!) that they would introduce F class to their A380. So you may need to try them!

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