ANA conducted its 20th “Hatsuhinode Flight” or “First Sunrise Flight” to celebrate the start of the new year. The airline operated two flights to mark the occasion, including one with its Airbus A380 Flying Honu. The two-hour flight gives passengers the chance to enjoy the beautiful views over Mt. Fuji and enjoy the luxuries of flying once again.
First of the year
Since 2001, ANA has been operating a special flight for people to celebrate the year’s first sunrise (Hatsuhinode). The flight this year departed from Tokyo Narita, instead of the usual Haneda, and was operated by ANA’s A380.
The flight, NH 2030, took off from Tokyo Narita Airport at 06:25 AM local time. According to Aviation Wire, passengers began arriving at 03:15 AM in anticipation of the flight. The two-hour-long flight took a circular path and made several loops around Mount Fuji just as the sun rose.
After 25 minutes over Fuji, the flight went south towards Nagoya City and Shizuoka prefecture before flying over the Pacific Ocean. After just over two hours in the sky, the aircraft landed at Tokyo Narita at 08:31 AM local time.
ANA’s A380 can seat up to 520 passengers at full capacity, with eight seats in first, 56 in business, 73 in premium economy, and 383 in economy class. Usually, this aircraft is deployed on the high-traffic Tokyo-Honolulu route. However, low traffic means only one of three A380s are in action and only flying ‘flights to nowhere‘.
For the New Year’s flight, there were 226 passengers on the aircraft, according to AviationWire. First class went full, while business class had 37, premium economy 52, and economy had 129 passengers. This likely ensured adequate social distancing onboard the flight. Tickets were priced between ¥40,000 ($387) for a non-window economy seat to ¥125,000 ($1,200) for a first class seat.
Onboard, passengers received goodies like a soft toy turtle ANA A380, sweet treats, and a commemorative certificate of the flight. Passengers also got special new year meals (osechi-style) across classes during the journey. This certainly is a unique way to start the new year, especially after a year on the ground for most!
Flights to nowhere
Japan is usually the third-busiest domestic market globally and a massive international hub for passengers. However, with many flights still suspended, Japanese carriers have quickly jumped on the ‘flight to nowhere’ trend. ANA has operated three A380 flights to nowhere, while others like Qantas and Starlux have seen great excitement too.
ANA took delivery of its third and final Flying Honu in November, after months of delays. Despite delivery, the plane remains parked at Toulouse and will likely stay there until ANA feels the need to bring the plane into service. Hopefully, we’ll see the A380s back on the Hawaii-Tokyo route very soon!