**Update 08/23/20 @ 07:45UTC – An ANA spokesperson gave more information on the lottery and charter flight; details below**
All Nippon Airways (ANA) carried out a sightseeing flight on Saturday, ferrying 334 passengers from Narita Airport. The Japanese airline operated the trip with its blue A380, the first of its “Flying Honu” aircraft, which had been grounded since March 25th.
In usual circumstances, the double-decker A380 flies to Hawaii. For the sightseeing flight, however, the plane took off from Narita Airport and landed back there 90 minutes later.
Although the Airbus aircraft has a capacity of 540, the boarding rate was reduced to 64%. This is due to minimizing contact with individuals since ANA used a shuttle bus to transport passengers to the plane.
A Hawaiian experience
Passengers lucky enough to score a seat on the “giant sea turtle” plane were chosen by lottery. The aircraft, painted blue to represent the Hawaiian skies, took off from Narita Airport at 5:06 UTC. This flight is the first for the airline since June 23rd.
The charter flight treated customers to a Hawaiian resort experience onboard. According to Aviation Wire, there were exclusive drinks such as pineapple juice and mojito, video screenings, a raffle, and a selection of souvenirs prepared. At the same time, all ground staff donned Hawaiian-themed shirts.
“Our safety and hygiene protocols, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, air ventilation, were thoroughly implemented at all stages of the flight,” an airline spokesperson told Simple Flying.
ANA also told Simple Flying that the number of applicants for the lottery was 150 times the number of seats available for the charter trip. Only 334 lucky ANA customers could end up taking the flight.
Senior Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Shinichi Inoue said in a welcome speech,
While the spread of COVID-19 is yet to settle, “The ANA FLYING HONU Charter Flight” today was brought to life with an idea that came from our customer, and we are ever grateful and also very proud for these opportunities where we could make our customer’s ideas come true. We didn’t go to Hawaii, but we tried to get people to feel the atmosphere.
— A380 fanclub (@a380fanclub) August 21, 2020
Beyond allowing customers to take a trip onboard its planes once again, the airline was making sure its aircraft continued to stay in tip-top shape. As reported in Aviation Wire, if the jet does not fly for more than 90 days consecutively, there needs to be significant maintenance for its landing gear, among other things.
ANA’s unique A380s
At the moment, ANA has two out of three of uniquely painted A380s. These A380s were ordered to serve the airline’s Narita-Honolulu route primarily.
The first is the Sky Blue plane, which conducted the sightseeing charter flight on August 22nd. The carrier received this plane in March last year. Secondly, ANA has an Emerald Green A380. This superjumbo plane is painted to reflect the clear waters of Hawaiian islands.
The third one is titled Sunset Orange to represent sunsets in the tropical destination. Unfortunately, ANA has asked to postpone the handover of this particular aircraft due to the pandemic. At the moment, the airline expects to receive this A380 in October, which is effectively a six-month delay.
The airline did not see the benefit of receiving the A380 in April, seeing as the aviation situation has halted most flights from taking place.
Things may be looking up in the next few months, as Japan is on its way to establishing a travel bubble with Hawaii. Such an agreement will allow ANA to make full use of its A380s, and the Sunset Orange plane will likely start operations as soon as it is delivered.
Airlines mull over the biggest commercial aircraft
Other airlines are contemplating the future of its A380s. The current aviation situation has airlines struggling to cut back costs. Seeing as the four-engine aircraft is the largest commercial plane to date, it is not a cost-saving option.
Major airlines such as Qantas and Lufthansa are hibernating its A380 fleet for the next few years. Although these aircraft will possibly not take to the skies soon, its fate with the airline is still dependent on the return of global travel demand. Air France scrapped its entire A380 fleet this year.
Korean Air, on the other hand, may resume its A380 services soon. As travel demand is picking up in North Asia, it’s fleet of 10 A380s could possibly be taken out of storage shortly.
What do you think of ANA’s experiential flight? Did you manage to get a seat on the A380? Let us know in the comments.