Widebody aircraft retirements continue to abound. All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced Tuesday it would be cutting its domestic widebody operations in half as it moves ahead with the early exit of some of its Boeing 777s from the fleet.
Increasing single-aisle operations
Japan’s largest airline is leaning into the uncertainty and precariousness of the ongoing crisis. ANA said today it would maintain a flexible approach to operations, providing updated flight schedules on a monthly basis. The airline has also confirmed it will retire large domestic aircraft ahead of schedule, although it did not provide an exact timeline.
ANA said it would temporarily utilize aircraft normally deployed on international routes for domestic operations. The latter will further be maintained by small and medium-sized aircraft to reduce environmental impact and lower costs. The Star Alliance member will reduce its domestic widebody aircraft operations by 50% while increasing single-aisle operations by 30%.
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Core operations will be domestic
The airline said that with the early retirement of its Boeing 777s, a greater number of long-haul flights would be operated by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, the carrier also stated that the core of its earnings for the fiscal year of 2021 would be made up of domestic operations.
The company added it would “aggressively reorganize its route network to maximize revenues.” This will include a ramp-up of services to Okinawa and Hokkaido, as well as specific flights on the Tokyo Haneda to Miyako route for the summer season when demand is expected to increase.
New international route launches to Milan, Stockholm, Istanbul, and Moscow have been postponed indefinitely. One could imagine they will depend on what the situation will look like ahead of the Tokyo Olympics meant to commence on July 23rd.
Seven Triple Sevens have already left
Since the start of the pandemic, ANA has already retired seven Boeing 777 jets. In October, it announced that 22 of the type would leave the fleet earlier than initially planned. The airline currently has 50 in its fleet, although 12 are currently listed as parked. In comparison, 67 of its 74 Dreamliners are still active.
However, ANA’s domestic passengers will grow much more accustomed to the airline’s fleet of 14 Airbus A320s, 19 A321s, and 45 Boeing 737s. Only a handful of the carrier’s narrowbody aircraft are currently not operating.
JAL is going for the A350
There will be much fewer 777s flying domestic routes in Japan in the next few years. In late October, flag carrier Japan Airlines announced that it would retire its entire domestic Triple Seven fleet by 2023. The oneworld alliance member will instead continue to add more Airbus A350-900 into its domestic fleet lineup.
Both JAL and ANA are widebody-focused airlines. Japan is normally the world’s third-largest market for air travel, making it one of the few places in the world where domestic widebody operations make sense. ANA does have an order for 20 of the new Boeing 777X, and while the exact date for its entry into service remains unknown it is not unthinkable it would operate domestic inter-island routes for the airlines.