ANA is gearing up to operate a second flight to nowhere with its Airbus A380 ‘Flying Honu’ aircraft. The flight comes after a successful first flight that was held in late August. Some airlines are resorting to operating flights to nowhere as global travel restrictions remain in place.
At first glance, a flight to nowhere is usually a bad thing. Some examples have seen aircraft fly halfway across the Atlantic, before turning back due to technical issues onboard. However, the current situation has moved the goalposts, with some airlines operating such flights on purpose.
Why isn’t the ANA A380 flying?
The ANA Airbus A380 is immediately eye-catching. Both of the aircraft that have been delivered to ANA so far have been painted with elaborate turtle-inspired paint jobs. The liveries are part of the branding that the airline has applied to its Hawaiian route.
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ANA is using the Airbus A380 only on its route between Tokyo and Honolulu. However, no such flights had operated since late March when the Hawaiian government implemented a 14-day quarantine policy for island arrivals. This effectively killed passenger demand as the route was tourism centered.
A previous flight to nowhere
However, the airline saw an opportunity to use its aircraft in August. Since late March, the entire Airbus A380 fleet had remained passengerless. Rather than continuing to sit around, ANA decided to use its ‘ANA Blue’ Flying Honu to operate a 1-hour 26-minute sightseeing flight around the Tokyo area.
According to the Japanese Aviation Wire, there were 334 people on the previous flight, all selected through a lottery process. The prices for the flight ranged from 14,000 yen ($132) for a central economy seat, all the way up to 50,000 yen ($470) for a first-class seat.
The publication goes on to state that a second flight will now be operated on September 20th due to the popularity of the first flight. The second flight will be performed by the airline’s newer A380, painted in ’emerald green.’
What’s happening with the Airbus A380 fleet?
For the time being, outside of these extraordinary flights, ANA’s pair of Airbus A380 aircraft have remained passengerless. The airline has always said that it would use the plane solely on its Hawaii route, ruling out usage on other international routes. However, lower levels of passenger demand would likely rule it out from different routes anyway.
The Japanese carrier placed a total order for three Airbus A380 aircraft. The third and final plane was due to be delivered to the airline during this spring of this year. In April, an ANA Spokesperson told Simple Flying:
“In regards to the delivery of our 3rd A380 aircraft, it has been confirmed to be delayed. However, we are unable to provide you the exact delivery date as it is still under coordination.”