Will ANA Soon Start Flying A380s?

Filed Under: ANA

Skymark Airlines is the Japanese low cost carrier which has been in bankruptcy since early this year.


There were two major bidders for Skymark — ANA (Japan’s largest airline), as well as Intrepid Aviation (an aircraft leasing company), which was backed by Delta. In the end, ANA won by a large margin.

Via ZipanguFlyer:

With U.S.-based lessor Intrepid claiming 38% of Skymark’s debt, the decisions of Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and CIT Aerospace, accounting for 29%, 16%, and 14%, respectively, had been crucial. The Delta/Intrepid proposal was poised to win in terms of the proportion of liabilities as the three had opposed ANA involvement. However, reportedly, in the final days before the vote, ANA etched in a deal with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to acquire some, if not all of Skymark’s canceled A380s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, and also promised CIT Aerospace that they would lease aircraft from them in the future, prompting the three to support ANA. With most of the 197 creditors being smaller domestic companies having businesses with ANA, the number of creditors was ANA’s to win from the first place.

So there are two especially interesting things to note here.

First of all, with this change, ANA and JAL will control 97% of the domestic Japanese market, which is huge. They’re basically reverting to a duopoly.

Second of all, from the perspective of someone who is A380 obsessed (I’ve flown the A380s of Air FranceAsiana AirlinesBritish AirwaysChina SouthernEmiratesEtihad AirwaysKorean AirLufthansaMalaysia AirlinesQantasQatar AirwaysSingapore Airlines, and Thai Airways), possibly the most interesting part is that ANA will be taking over Skymark’s A380s. Two Skymark A380s are presently sitting at the Airbus factory collecting dust, and they had a total of six of them on order.

Ultimately ANA probably bought Skymark because they wanted their Haneda Airport slots and also wanted to eliminate competition in the domestic Japanese market. So agreeing to take over the A380s was simply a cost of achieving that, given that Airbus had a big part in deciding who takes over Skymark.

What remains to be seen is what ANA will actually do with the Skymark A380s. ANA could:

  • Take delivery of the two that have already been manufactured, and try to find a way to cancel the rest of the orders
  • Fly them in their fleet, either for domestic operations in a highly dense configuration, or for longhaul operations
  • Lease them to another airline as a means of offloading them (there have been repeated rumors of Turkish being interested in A380s)

In general I just don’t see how A380s make sense for ANA, based on their route network. ANA’s domestic 777s already have more than 500 seats, so if they were to use A380s for domestic flights, I can’t even begin to imagine how many seats those planes would have.


Meanwhile ANA’s longhaul 777s have just over 200 seats, making them among the least densely configured 777s out there. ANA has a very limited number of longhaul routes with more than once daily service, so putting an A380 on most routes would more than double capacity and likely sharply decrease yields.


Bottom line

This is an interesting deal, one which most certainly isn’t good for consumers, as the domestic Japanese market once again turns into a near duopoly. I’m still curious to see what happens with the A380s, though, which just seem to be a cost of making this deal happen.

What do you think — will ANA fly Skymark’s A380s, or will they try to sell them/lease them to another airline?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. “ANA doesn’t have any longhaul routes with twice daily service” — they serve JFK twice daily.

  2. “ANA doesn’t have any longhaul routes with twice daily service”

    New York/JFK: NH9 + NH1009
    Chicago/ORD: NH11 + NH1011

  3. Apparently the planes were already mostly configured for Skymark’s all premium economy layout and changing to a more traditional layout was too expensive. It wouldn’t surprise me to see ANA take them and then sell them cheap enough that the other airline comes out ahead after the reconfiguration costs.

  4. this one is easy. They will fly the A 380 in the Tokyo Osaka corridor. When I lived in Japan and flew that route I used to gape at the dense 747 seating layout and the sheer traffic between those two cities.

  5. I love A380’s so I hope ANA decides to at least operate one or two. The might on-sell/lease the already fitted out versions (given it’s too costly for them to reconfigure) but retain one or two of the future orders (maybe get it converted to an A380neo like Emirates have managed to poke Airbus into).

    A380’s generally ain’t great for economy, but if in premium classes they can offer such opulent space (and my favourite, window bins!) especially for toilets (so sick of broom closet loos).

    There’s got to be at least one route in the ANA network where the A380 could make sense, or at least an untapped route which would suit (cause I really want an ANA A380 ride lol).

  6. While First Square is often empty, ANA’s Business between Tokyo and California is often packed. Japan is experiencing a tourist boom with the strong dollar, and they’re looking forward to the Olympics. True that Tokyo=Osaka is another full route for an A380, and they also want to take Asiana’s and Singapore’s A380 fliers, together with other top A380 airlines. Japan has a natural “gateway” advantage from the US, and as I have told ANA several times, their 777s are too small and boring.

  7. There are very little point of ANA to use A380, with opening of HND to international hugely is a double-edged sword (not like before only shuttle between GMP, SHA, TSA, HKG, etc). Slot constrain is relaxed, but traffic at NRT is largely soften, as HND is the much prefered airport to high yield traffic.

    We saw many airlines once flew A380 to NRT are using smaller equipments, as they prefer to serve both HND and NRT (like LH, EK, AF). ANA and JAL are now in a “funny” situation for their international operations, there are limited slots available for international flights at HND. Not enough for all of their International operations in Tokyo, they have to have their capacity reluctantly placed between 2 airports. Which further decrease the need for A380, as demand and capacity are not concentated in single hub. With the increased capacity, ANA is trying to fill more seats with 6th freedom traffic, which multiple frequency on long-haul would be ideal, like CX…

    As for domestic front, there are some of the world’s most heavy routes, but Japan also has one of the world’s best rail network, which airlines are battling firecely with. Hence most of routes has to be operated in high frequency. Even the most popular route, HND CTS, both carriers operate roughly an hourly service, only a handful of flights are operated by their current biggest aircraft 773. Hence the need for an even bigger aircraft are in great doubt.

    Besides, is HND A380 ready?

  8. It is not clear that ANA is buying 380s. Nikkei says that they made a conditional order to buy Airbus planes of some kind, and that “rumor has it” that those planes are the 380s.

    They will not go on domestic routes because 380s are not allowed at HND.

  9. Thanks Joe for clearing that up.
    If some airlines is looking to dry/damp/wet lease A380, guess MH would be an ever ready candidate…

  10. Given the size of the aircraft and some of its specialised needs in terms of air traffic separation and runway, taxiway, gate and aircraft parking requirements, this is a significant destination pool. But with almost all carriers but Emirates having placed small orders for the A380, they will likely continue to concentrate their A380 operations on a small selection of those 130 airports, especially when it is considered some long-haul routes require more than one aircraft per daily rotation.

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