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Japan’s All Nippon Airways made history on Wednesday for itself, its home country and Airbus. For ANA, Wednesday marked the first time a Japanese carrier has taken delivery of an A380. And for Airbus, it marked the last time it’ll make a first A380 delivery to a customer — at least, as the orders stand now. No one else has ordered the jet, and Airbus has already announced it will stop building the biggest passenger jet in the world in 2021.
In front of press and teams from Airbus and ANA, the airline received its first of three superjumbos. After a brief ceremony, ANA’s CEO Shinya Katanozaka and some of his team boarded the aircraft and departed for its new home in Tokyo.
ANA is going to send all of its A380s on flights to Hawaii, a huge market for Japanese tourism. The livery features sea turtles, which are an iconic species in Hawaii. Not only will the first of the three ANA A380s feature this sea turtle design, but all three of them will.
Its first A380 is registered as JA-381A and named “Lani,” will fly from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Honolulu (HNL) beginning May 24. The airline will take delivery of two additional A380s — and each of them will be used on the Tokyo to Honolulu route.
ANA says that Hawaii is the No. 1 resort destination for Japanese travelers. The airline currently flies Boeing 787-9s on the route, which it says are typically full. The A380 obviously represents a huge upgrade in capacity for the airline — the 787 can fit 215 passengers across three cabins, while the A380 can fit 520 passengers across four cabins.
The airline is set to take delivery of its second A380 on July 1. While the first, blue one was delivered on Wednesday and colored after the Hawaiian sky, the second will be emerald green in color after the Hawaiian ocean. Finally, in 2020, ANA will get its third and final A380, painted orange after the Hawaiian sunset.
While Wednesday’s delivery ceremony was celebratory overall, there was a feeling of sadness among some of the Airbus team and people in attendance. This delivery marked the final first A380 to a customer on order right now. In February, Airbus announced that it would cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021, marking the end of an era for the largest passenger jet in history.
“Today is a celebration of the A380,” said Chris Cholerton, president, civil aerospace for Rolls-Royce, which makes the engines.
Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, said in his delivery remarks that the manufacturer remains fully committed to supporting all A380 operators as long as they operate the aircraft.
Inside the Aircraft
Inside, passengers can expect a four-cabin configuration across the two decks: first, business, premium economy and economy. Check out this guide for information on how to book the A380 on points and miles.
On Wednesday’s delivery event at Airbus’ Toulouse headquarters, media weren’t allowed on board the aircraft. However, inside and on the upper deck, passengers can expect eight first-class seats. With the A380, ANA will offer a first-class product on the NRT-HNL route for the first time.
First-class suites are entirely gray in color, featuring a lie-flat bed, with its own door. Each of the enclosed suites — which are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration — features a 32-inch LCD inflight entertainment screen. The center two seats could be ideal for couples, featuring a large partition that can be situated up or down. The two middle seats cannot be made into a double bed, however.
For the soft product in first class, passengers can expect an amenity kit from Globe-Trotter. Additionally, there will be a bedding set and PJs. Meal service will be designed by Four Seasons Resort O’Ahu at Ko Olina.
Further back on the upper deck, there are 56 business-class seats, which are also arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and will be silver and blue in color. You can expect lie-flat functionality, an 18-inch IFE monitor and in-seat power ports.
And rounding out the upper deck, there are 73 premium economy seats at the rear of the cabin in a 2-3-2 configuration. Each of the seats has 38 inches of pitch, along with a swivel tray table, 15.6-inch IFE screen, foot rests and power ports.
In between the first and business-class cabins, there’s a bar counter, as well as an individual bar counter in the first-class cabin. At the rear of the premium economy cabin, there’s a third bar counter for the upper deck.
The lower deck is comprised completely of economy seats — 383 in total in a 3-4-3 configuration. Economy flyers will be happy to know each seat offers a generous 34 inches of pitch, more than the usual 32-inch legroom usually found in long-haul coach. Each seat in the cabin also has a 13.3-inch IFE screen and power ports.
Because each of ANA’s A380s were designed with leisure travel — and more specifically family travel — in mind, the airline’s introduced the ANA COUCHii. As one might expect, it’s a couch product, with the leg rest extending out into a wider seat for lounging, much like Air New Zealand’s Skycouch. The rear six rows are reserved to be able to accommodate the COUCHii.
As far as common areas on the lower deck, there are two bar counters, as well as a “multi-purpose area,” which ANA describes as the perfect place for families to take a step away from their seat.
In all four cabins, ANA will serve a custom “Hawaii Cocktail,” which will be complimentary. Depending on your class of service, it’ll be served either in a glass or paper Flying Honu cup.
Honolulu ANA Lounge
ANA’s investing in Hawaii so much as to also build the largest airline lounge in Honolulu Airport (HNL).
An A380 flight will have the capacity to fill the lounge, on the third floor of Terminal 2, above Gate C4 (currently Gate 29). There will be a specialized area for families, which ANA is playing up quite a bit for its A380 operations to Hawaii.
Additionally, premium cabin passengers on the A380 will be permitted to board the aircraft directly from a jetbridge connected to the lounge. Those in economy and premium economy will still be required to board through the regular terminal.
Airbus’ delivery of the A380 to ANA marked a historic day for both the carrier and the manufacturer, but it also marks a somber milestone for the airplane. With an end date already announced for production, it’s unlikely that any other airline will buy the double-decker, whose vast size was both its main selling point and biggest weakness. As ANA’s all-out effort to serve Hawaii with the A380 shows, it’s a great plane for markets that can support it, but a tough sell for airlines that don’t have that kind of year-round heavy demand.
Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy.
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