Innovative Airlines 2012: #10 All Nippon Airways

Last year’s Innovative Airlines ranking awarded All Nippon Airways (ANA) with a second place thanks to its ‘Inspiration of Japan’ cabin and service concept, the opening of a new international terminal at its Tokyo Haneda hub, its business-class only ANA Business Jet service, the MyChoice ancillary revenues program, as well as passenger-friendly amenities such as women-only toilets onboard, sleep support kits on late night departures, and wireless mobile phone chargers in its domestic lounges.

Bold strategic moves
Aiming to fill the void left by the restructuring of Japan Airlines, ANA – which is currently the ninth largest airline in the world by revenues and the largest in Japan by passenger numbers – seeks to become one of the major airlines in Asia. Cornerstones of this ambitious strategy are plans to expand international capacity by 22 percent in the next two years by capitalizing on its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, of which it will have 20 in operation by March 2013. Furthermore, the airline is targetting new customer segments by launching two low-cost carriers in 2012.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The first airline to receive the B787 Dreamliner in September 2011, ANA so far has received the first six aircraft of 55 B787s on order, which it says is key to its expansion in Asia and Europe. The 787 is a twin-aisle airplane that can accommodate up to 250 passengers on flights up to 8,200 miles (15,200 km). As the first large passenger jet to have more than half its structure made of lightweight composite material instead of aluminum, the fuel-efficitnet 787 is the only mid-size airplane capable of long-range routes, making so-called ‘thin routes’ economically viable.

The interior of the 787 Dreamliner provides passengers with a more spacious experience than on other twin-aisle planes, because of a ‘vaulted’ 8-foot ceiling, large windows with electronic shades, while passenger comfort is improved by higher levels of humidity and maintaining air pressure at the equivalent of an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) in comparison to 8,000 feet on other aircraft.

ANA’s 787s feature the airline’s ‘Inspiration of Japan’ cabin (launched in early 2011) and have two classes – Business and Economy. The capacity ranges from 158 seats (46 full-flat Sicma Skylounge business seats, 112 Sicma AIRgonomic FX seats in economy) for aircraft flying long-haul routes to 222 (42 Sicma cradle seats in business, 180 economy) on short-haul routes.
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ANA to provide cabin crew with iPads as a training manual

Following earlier initiatives by Alaska Airlines and United who are supplying all their pilots with company iPads, ANA will become the first airline in the world to provide all its cabin attendants with the device. The Japanese carrier said it will arm each of the company’s roughly 6,000 flight attendants with an iPad tablet in a move to reduce training costs by about JPY200 million (USD2.6 million).

The use of iPads instead of traditional paper training manuals will cut down on printing and distribution costs for ANA, as well as make sure that staff will be able to access the latest information. During training, ANA flight attendants are required to constantly carry the bulky training manual with them (also on flights), which weighs about 2.1 kilograms and consists of around 1,000 pages over three volumes. The manuals also have to be updated and reprinted several times a year.

Furthermore, with the roll-out of the 0.7kg iPad, ANA will move away from centralized training and provide self-taught lessons on the iPad instead. For example, cabin crew will be able to download videos teaching the correct way to serve a meal to travelers and how to handle emergency situations.

ANA says it anticipates that cutting the need for staff to physically gather for tutorials will significantly slash training time, as e-learning will make the training process easier and shorter because crew members can study at any time and in any place.

Approximately 700 cabin attendants will begin trialing the iPad from October 2011 before full roll out in April 2012.
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Japan’s ANA and LOT from Poland unveil their new Boeing 787 interiors

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Polish national airline LOT, which are set to receive the first of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in respectively Asia and Europe, have both unveiled their new interiors for the aircraft.

The 787 is a twin-aisle airplane that can accommodate between 210 and 250 passengers on distances up to 8,200 miles (15,200 km) – making it the only mid-size airplane capable of very long-range routes. Boeing is three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget with the Dreamliner. The design of the 787 has proved difficult because it is the first large passenger jet to have more than half its structure made of lightweight composite material instead of aluminum, resulting in a plane that burns 20 percent less fuel than jetliners of a similar size. More than 800 787s have been ordered by over 50 airlines so far and launch customer ANA is expected to take delivery of the first 787 in August or September 2011.

More space and natural light, improved air quality, electric blinds
The new 787 interior design will provide passengers a more spacious experience than on other twin-aisle planes, because of a ‘vaulted’ 8-foot ceiling. The plane also has bigger, drop-down overhead luggage bins, while larger windows with electronic shades provide more natural day light. Passenger comfort will be further improved by maintaining air pressure at the equivalent of an altitude of 6000 feet (1800 meters) in comparison to 8000 feet on previous aircraft, and higher levels of humidity.

Launch customer for the 787 is ANA, which used the recent Paris Airshow to unveil the cabin design for its 55 B787s on order. On both long-haul and short-haul routes, ANA’s cabin will consist of two classes, Business and Economy, and the design is based on ANA’s ‘Inspiration of Japan’ concept. Due to the B787’s production delays the new cabin is already available on ANA B777-300ER aircraft serving New York, London and Frankfurt from Tokyo Narita (see our earlier article “ANA’s new cabin upgrade raises the bar in all classes”). Read full article

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Green is the new black: ANA trials hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as limousine service

Airports are fast becoming sites where alternative fuel-powered vehicles are tested, as the trials can be carried out within an contained area or on standard routes, for example between the city and the airport. We have covered the use of environmental-friendly vehicles at airports before on (“Airport vehicles go green”), for example KLM has been testing the ‘AirPod’, a zero-emission vehicle that runs on compressed air, to transport people and light cargo at Schiphol Airport.

Another promising green technology are hydrogen fuel cells, which combined with oxygen in the air, produce electricity to power vehicles, with water as the only emission. If the electricity used in producing the hydrogen is generated by wind, water or solar energy, the result is a zero-emission energy source.

All Nippon Airways
At Tokyo Narita Airport, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has teamed up with Toyota to test the latest version of the Toyota Highlander ‘FCHV-adv’ (which stands for fuel cell hybrid vehicle-advanced). During February and March 2011, the vehicles will be used as part of ANA’s ‘Welcome-Home Limousine Taxi Service’ for premium passengers returning to Japan on flights from Europe or the U.S., as well as for the airline’s early morning pickup service. The Toyota’s operated by ANA will be used to collect data on the performance of the fuel-cell, such as fuel efficiency and consumption, both in the city-style as on the highway. Toyota plans to have a consumer-ready version of the FCHV-adv available on the U.S. market by the end of 2015.

Virgin Atlantic
The initiative by ANA and Toyota follows a similar trial by Virgin Atlantic and General Motors in 2008. As part of GM’s ‘Project Driveway’ zero-emission trial, Virgin Atlantic used three hydrogen fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Equinox SUVs to provide complimentary ground transportation for its ‘Upper Class’ passengers in Los Angeles and New York.
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Innovative airlines 2011: #2 All Nippon Airways

Runner up on our list is Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA), which has stepped up its international expansion and has been courting business passengers with an improved product at a time its major competitor JAL is in the middle of a restructuring. The opening of Tokyo Haneda’s new international terminal in October 2010 and the trans-Pacific joint venture with United/Continental also has given ANA an opportunity to capitalize on its large domestic network out of Haneda. 

Inspiration of Japan
In April 2010, ANA introduced a serious upgrade of its four loung-haul cabins as part of a new ‘Inspiration of Japan’ programme. The new interiors were originally meant for the airline’s B787s (ANA is the launch customer) but due to the delivery delays – ANA’s first 787 will now be delivered in the third quarter of 2011 – the new cabins have been installed on ANA’s B777-300ER fleet instead, and are currently available on services to New York, London and Frankfurt. 

ANA’s new first class, renamed ‘First Square,’ features a private suite with a full-flat bed, a 23-inch LCD touch screen and an individual coat closet. At both Tokyo Haneda and Narita airports, First Class passengers can also work or relax in their own private pod, dubbed ‘ANA Suite Lounge,’ as they get checked-in and wait for their flight. ANA’s new Business Class also offers a full-flat bed in a staggered 1:2:1 configuration which gives all seats unrestricted aisle access. Further raising the bar, ANA offers First and Business class passengers travelling round trip from Japan to North America or Europe a ‘welcome-home’ helicopter or limousine transfer to central Tokyo. 

ANA’s new Economy seats have a very generous 34″ pitch, USB and power ports, and the fixed back shell allows passengers to recline inside their seat, instead of into the lap of the passenger seated in the next row. In a nod to business travellers that have traded down to Economy Class, full-fare Economy passengers departing from Japan are eligible to ANA’s ‘Economy Class Pleasant-Trip’ service, which includes priority check-in, free lounge access and priority baggage arrival. Read full article

Smart design innovations that make life onboard a bit more comfortable

The A380 has 50 percent more floor space than a B747, but on average only has a third more seats, which leaves the remaining 15 percent of space available for larger seats and customized areas. This has allowed airlines to launch flagship products that have generated lots of attention, such as First Class suites, onboard bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, bars and lounges. At the other end of the spectrum, and also as a sign of more modest cabin interiors in leaner times ahead, airlines have gotten creative in designing  small practical innovations that make life a bit more comfortable onboard. Some examples. 

Air New Zealand (ANZ) in January 2010 unveiled a radical new design of the cabins on its new B777-300s, including the ‘SkyCouch’ seat in Economy and the ‘Spaceseat’ in Premium Economy. The airline’s new design also extended to small comfort innovations, such as a ‘slip on pillow’ which goes over the winged headrest in Economy and eliminates the nuisance of pillows falling down and the need for inflatable neck cushions. In Premium Economy, ANZ’s new Spaceseat has no legrests, but instead features a bean bag style cushion, which the airline affectionately calls ‘Otto’ (short for ottoman). Otto can be moved around freely and enables passengers to create their own position for sleeping rather than being restrained by an uncomfortable, stiff leg rest. 

On a long flight, it is advisable that passengers stretch their legs from time to time. SAS took this advice a step further and installed a ‘stretch bar’ between the premium economy and business class cabins, so passengers can stretch their backs as well. Read full article

Thai Airways and ANA to set up low-cost airlines with partners

Thai Airways and Singapore-based Tiger Airways have joined forces to launch a new low-fare airline, called Thai Tiger Airways, in the first quarter of 2011. Thai Tiger will offer short-haul services out of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport and planned destinations include Chiang Mai, Phuket, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Shenzhen and Chennai. THAI will have a 51% share in the new carrier. 

Budget airlines are expanding rapidly throughout Asia and in 2009 accounted for 15.7 percent of total capacity (compared with just 1 percent in 2001), according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation. THAI has seen its market share on domestic routes drop from 80% to 50 % and its regional market share from 42% to 30 % over the last few years. Using the low-cost expertise of Tiger Airways will allow THAI to become more competitive in the fast-growing intra-Asian travel market, and prepare itself for the upcoming liberalization of the ASEAN skies in 2015. THAI already has a 39% stake in domestic low-cost airline Nok Air
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ANA first airline to serve freshly tapped beer in-flight

Airlines are increasingly making an effort to use fresh ingredients in their in-flight meals, or try to figure out ways to prepare parts of the menu freshly on board. For example, ANA, JAL and Cathay Pacific serve freshly cooked rice in-flight, using an onboard rice cooker. Cathay Pacific long-haul aircraft also have a toaster oven and an espresso machine on board, while kitchens on SWISS aircraft and Lufthansa’s new A380 are equipped with an in-flight Nespresso machine

Now, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is taking its in-flight beverage service up a notch by serving freshly tapped beer on select flights. ANA is the first airline to offer beer on tap during flights. Draft beer comes out of a keg, using highly pressurized carbon dioxide gas, and couldn’t be served before because airlines are prohibited from bringing high-pressure gas cylinders onboard due to safety regulations. ANA worked with ice machine and refrigeration specialist Hoshizaki Electric to develop a special beer dispenser that uses carbon dioxide gas vaporized from dry ice to power the mini beer kegs. Read full article

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Monocle creates the perfect airline: Nippon Nordic Air

One of airlinetrends’s favourite magazines, Monocle has created their blueprint dream airline: Nippon Nordic Air (NNA). The global affairs magazine is well-qualified to determine what the perfect airline should look like. Monocle’s editor-in-chief, globetrotting style-meister Tyler Brûlé, has worked with BA, SWISS, and Porter Airlines, and in his weekly Financial Times ‘Fast Lane’ column points out the good and bad in airline services. 

Here’s what, in Monocle’s words, the Nippon Nordic Air experience would be like: “Nippon Nordic Air is a new type of airline designed to fill a void left by legacy carriers that have run out of ideas and money and upstart mega-carriers that lack social currency and good taste. The inflight experience will be a dignified one. With three classes of services, the emphasis is on good quality throughout and a healthy flying experience. Nippon Nordic combines the flying skills of Canada’s best pilots, the design ingenuity of Sweden and Japan’s best designers and engineers and the gracious service of a Kyoto ryokan.” Read full article

ANA charges for drinks on domestic flights, teams up with Starbucks to serve free coffee

Seeking to cut back on its operational costs, ANA on April 1st 2010 started to charge passengers in economy class on domestic flights for all drinks other than water and green tea. Instead, passengers can purchase drinks from ANA’s ‘My Choice’ paid catering menu. Beverages available for sale include premium mandarin orange juice, Darjeeling tea and onion gratin soup. Wine, champagne, sake and shochu served in ANA’s business class are also sold in economy. 

Two weeks after introducing its paid drinks policy on domestic flights, ANA teamed up with Starbucks in a ‘tryvertising’ campaign to promote the launch of Starbucks new VIA instant coffee brand in Japan. Since April 14, the day Starbucks launched its VIA coffee brand in Japan, ANA has served complimentary Starbucks VIA coffee  on domestic routes. The free coffee service has just ended on May 31st, and ANA now charges 200 yen (USD2.20, EUR1.80) for a cup of Starbucks Via. 
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KLM pilot gives long-haul economy passengers option to order a premium meal

KLM has launched a pilot in which economy class passengers onboard its long-haul flights get the option to purchase a premium ‘a la carte’ meal, instead of the usual free meal service. The paid ‘a la carte’ menu includes a healthy Japanese meal, a tray with Italian delicacies, an Indonesian rice table, and a sustainable menu of organic chicken, vegetables, and cheeses. 

Economy passengers that have pre-ordered a premium meal will also be served first. Dishes cost EUR15 each and can be ordered and paid for when checking in online between 30 and 24 hours prior to departure. KLM says the goal of the paid premium catering option is to provide more choice for its wide range of passengers. The pilot will run until the end of August 2010 on flights from Amsterdam to Dubai, Cape Town, Bangkok/Taipei, and Singapore/Denpasar.
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Premium economy gains further ground on long-haul flights

For cost-conscious business travellers as well as wealthier leisure travellers, premium economy was born as a hybrid between economy and business class and is currently offered by a dozen airlines, mainly from Europea and Asia-Pacific. With company travel budgets squeezed during the economic downturn, this ‘value for money’ class is being offered by an increasing number of carriers. In 2009, V Australia(February 2009) and Air France (October 2009) introduced a premium economy class. Air France says its new Premium Voyageur cabin will increase its operating income by EUR 120 million a year from 2010 on.

Alitalia, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad
In June 2010 Alitalia will introduce a new premium economy cabin, called ‘Classica Plus’. Malaysia Airlines will fit a ‘super economy’ class on its A380’s (first delivery expected in April 2012), saying it would serve “those organisations that maintain an economy-class travel policy for their employees, even after the recession.” On a similar note, Cathay Pacific says changes in passenger demand have convinced it to install a Premium Economy product across its network by 2012, as such a cabin could help capture a clientele looking to trade down from Business Class. Finally, ‘Gulf Gulliver’ Etihad is reported to consider a premium economy zone for its A380s, which are scheduled to start being delivered in 2012.
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ANA introduces women-only lavatories on long-haul flights

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced women-only lavatories on its long-haul flights. One lavatory has been designated in the rear section of the passenger cabin and is available to female passengers from all classes. The bathroom will display a pink version of the universal sign for a ladies’ room as a way to let male travelers know to look for another option. Men are allowed to use the lavatory only in emergencies or when there were very few female passengers on the flight. Women can still use any other lavatory. 

ANA decided to designate a ladies-only lavatory based on a 2007 online survey in which 90 percent of the women polled said they favoured such a service. Demand for women-only toilets was especially high among passengers taking long flights. As to why women travellers want female-only toilets, ANA says they are tired of long queues for the lavatory. A handful of women also told the airline they won’t queue up for a toilet if there are men in the queue. Interestingly, ANA says 70 percent of male passengers surveyed say they don’t mind it, and some even welcomed the idea because it means less time queuing up after the ladies for the toilet.
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ANA’s new Narita First Class lounge comes with private pods

Japanese carrier ANA is just about to open an upgraded First Class lounge at Tokyo Narita Airport for First Class passengers and ANA Diamond Members. Rebranded as the ANA Suite Lounge, the highlight of the new lounge are personal private rooms where passengers can work or relax while they get checked-in and wait for their flight. The ‘pods’ come equipped with a workspace, leather-covered chairs and 32-inch personal TVs, and aim to provide similar privacy on the ground as in ANA’s new First Class suites up in the air. Scheduled for Autumn 2010, ANA will also open an exclusive check-in service for First Class and Diamond member at Narita.

The private lounge suites also resemble an upscale version of the cubicles found in Internet and manga-cafe’s popular throughout Japan. Rent-by-the hour private restrooms have also been recently introduced in the U.S at Atlanta airport
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Business class-only services holding up despite recession

Despite the economic recession and the subsequent fall in business travel, the business class-only niche is holding up surprisingly well. Initiated by private start-ups such as eos, Silverjet and l’Avion in the pre-recession boom in premium travel, the model has been incorporated by airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and ANA. Now with premium travel recovering slightly, airlines are considering growing their premium-only services again.

British Airways recently said it may expand its ‘Club World London City’ service to other U.S east-coast locations, such as Boston and Washington. BA says its flights from London City to JFK, which started in September 2009, reached 75 percent seat occupancy in December. The carrier also revealed it looked at starting flights to Dubai that would be refueled in mainland Europe, but decided against the plan. While BA’s westbound flight to JFK has to refuel in Shannon (Ireland), the ability to clear U.S immigration controls at Shannon enables the layover time to be put to use. However, such a stop could not be justified for many other potential routes from London City.
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ANA let’s premium passengers order food via IFE touchscreen


All Nippon Airways (ANA) has selected Panasonic Avionics’ eX2 in-flight entertainment (IFE) system for its Boeing 777/767 aircraft. ANA says the audio video on demand system will feature 160 programs including movies, videos, music and games, as well as iPod connectors, USB ports and power outlets on all seats. The deal is part of ANA’s strategy to launch new products and services under its new brand positioning ‘Inspiration of Japan’, which will be first rolled out from February 2010 on its new 777-300ER aircraft.

Furthermore, starting in April 2010, passengers in ANA’s First and Business class can order their meals and drinks directly from their seat from a touch-screen on their personal TV monitor. Passengers can have their meals when they please, and create their own menu from more than 30 a la carte choices.
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ANA’s new cabin upgrade raises the bar in all classes

Japanese carrier ANA has unveiled a serious upgrade of all its four cabins, as part of its ‘Inspiration of Japan’ campaign. The new classes of service where originally meant for the Boeing 787 of which ANA will be the launch customer in late 2010, but due to the B787’s production delays the new cabins will already appear on ANA’s new B777-300ER in February 2010 (Tokyo to New York). According to the ANA: “We were hoping to unveil our new cabin experience on the 787, but we decided we couldn’t wait anymore, so it’s going on our new 777s from early in the new year”. ANA’s new 777s will have eight first-class seats, 68 business-class seats, 24 premium-economy seats and 112 seats in economy. 

Re-branded as ANA First Square, ANA’s new first class features a private suite with a fully lie-flat bed, a 23-inch LCD touch screen, a baggage compartment and coat closet. At Tokyo Narita airport, ANA will introduce a ‘Suite Lounge’ in October 2010 for First Class passengers and Diamond tier members. Passengers will have their own private suite on the ground as well, where they can work or relax while they get checked-in and wait for their flight. Two other eye-catching features in the premium cabins are washrooms with warm-water bidet-toilets by Toto, which ANA says is a world’s first, and the option for passengers to select and order their meals via the touch screen of their IFE system (from April 2010). ANA’s new business class also has a full-flat bed (configuration is 1-2-1, so all seats have aisle acces), a 17-inch LCD touch screen, a large side table, and storage space for shoes. Read full article

ANA to monetize business class perks with ‘MyChoice’ program


All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced a new ancillary revenue program, called ‘MyChoice’. The idea behind ‘ANA My Choice’ is to offer Economy passengers paid access to services that were previously only available to business class passengers. The program starts on December 1 with a limited number of paid-for services and ANA says it will introduce more services during 2010. 

On the ground, ANA Economy passengers can purchase access to ANA’s airport lounge at Haneda for JP¥5,000 (USD55/EUR40).The introductory fee until the end of January 2010 is 4,000 yen. On board, light Business Class meals, such as a rice ball and miso soup set, are available for sale to Economy passengers for JP¥500 (USD5.50/EUR4) until the end of January, then the regular fee is 700 yen. Also, business classs wines and shochu (a strong liquor) will be sold for the introductory price of JP¥800 (USD9/EUR6) per glass (regular fee is 1,000 yen).
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