Whilst it is fair to say that the A380 order book is gathering dust – Airbus was recently even pondering discontinuing the A380’s production – there is one airline preparing to receive the so-called “Super-Jumbo”. All Nippon Airways is expecting to receive three Airbus A380-800s in early 2019 – the first Japanese airline to do so – and plans to fly them exclusively between Tokyo Narita and Honolulu.
This is a niche market to begin with, mainly catering for Japanese tourists so it may seem odd that ANA has announced that its A380s will be configured with four cabin classes – including first class.
The Onboard Product
A couple of weeks ago, ANA revealed more detailed information regarding the configuration on its new aircraft. Specifically, there will be 520 seats onboard ANA’s A380 – a higher capacity than many airlines offer on an A380, but lower than Emirates’ 615-seater two-class example. The configuration is relatively premium-heavy, for a primarily leisure route:
- 8 first class seats
- 56 business class seats
- 73 premium economy seats
- 383 economy seats, with a 3-4-3 configuration on the lower deck
Here is some more specific information ANA has released about each cabin class:
The First Class ‘suites’ will be located at the front of the upper deck, in a 1-2-1 setup. They represent an evolution of ANA’s current first class offering, on their 777-300ER but by no means a revolution. The suites have a sleek, premium design, with lots of privacy and a wide seat.
The airline’s new Business Class also features a new design and upholstery, but is similar to the practical yet comfortable arrangement on ANA’s 787s. Each seat offers direct-aisle access and a fully-flat seat.
At the rear of the upper deck, Premium Economy will be in a 2-3-2 configuration, with a substantial leg rest, wide arm rest and personal reading light in every seat.
Economy Class will span the entire lower-deck with the industry standard of a 3-4-3 set-up. It is also worth noting that the airline will offer 34″ seat pitch – well above average, for the comfort of its passengers. At the rear of the lower-deck will be ANA’s newest innovation, named ‘Couchii’, whereby a group of seats with the leg rest raised can form an area to relax or sleep. 60 of the 383 Economy seats will have this benefit.
According to the seat-map, ANA will offer at least one ‘bar-counter’ in every class (yes, Economy too) and at the rear of the lower-deck will be a larger ‘multi-purpose room’, which could serve as a duty-free shop area, such as the ones seen on Korean Air’s A380s.
Three Special Liveries
Having held a design contest in Spring 2017, to decide the new livery on the first Japanese A380, ANA have clearly been inspired by the winning design. Apart from the original design, the airline has created two other variations of the livery. Each of the three A380 aircraft will have its own character, representing either sky, ocean or sunset – respectively named Lani, Kai and Ka La. These liveries are certainly eye-catching and represent the main elements of the Hawaiian Islands.
Ultimately, ANA’s A380 throws the double-decker programme a lifeline with a new airline receiving the super jumbo. The Japanese carrier has introduced rejuvenated cabins and a trio of spectacular liveries to coincide with the A380s delivery. Whilst the Japan-Hawaii market is large, I do see other opportunities for ANA to utilise its new equipment out of Tokyo – to Frankfurt or London-Heathrow, for example and I hope that the airline considers expanding its A380 network in the future.
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