Trade agreement helps power airline’s return

Powering a resurgence in air travel between Japan and Australia, premium airline ANA is clocking up to 92 per cent load factors at its peak on its new Sydney–Tokyo Haneda flights. The route – ANA’s first into Australia for 16 years – is lifting passenger arrivals to decade highs. ANA’s success is a testament to growing tourist traffic and increased market access delivered by the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

Image courtesy of ANA

Image courtesy of ANA

ANA brings premium Dreamliner experience to Australian travellers

Tokyo-based Star Alliance airline, ANA, returned to Australian skies in 2015 for the first time in 16 years, and is now powering a resurgence in air travel between Japan and Australia. Prompting ANA’s decision to re-open the route was the signing of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA). By boosting trade in services and agribusiness, JAEPA looked set to boost business and tourist travel between Australia and Japan.

ANA’s decision was swiftly vindicated. Over the past 18 months, ANA has achieved an average 87.5 per cent load factor on its flights between Australia and Japan. In 2016 alone, arrivals by Japanese visitors to Australia increased by 24 per cent to 382,000 visitors. Departures from Australia increased 15 per cent to 358,000 – double the number recorded in 2012.

‘Japan has been Sydney’s fastest growing outbound destination over the last three years,’ says Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kerrie Mather. ‘The route is increasingly popular with business and leisure travellers.’

The success of this route appears to confirm a growing market for high-end airline services between Japan and Australia. Uniquely among Japanese airlines, ANA is the recipient of a 5-star rating from airline industry body, SKYTRAX, and has maintained that rating since 2012.

Founded in 1952, ANA is the largest airline in Japan by revenue and passenger numbers. Today, the company flies 87 international routes and 114 domestic routes, employs 39,243 people in the ANA Group and has a fleet of 268 aircraft.

ANA first touched down in Australia in 1987 with a service connecting Sydney and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. ANA’s arrival marked the first entry of a privately owned airline from Japan, and proved popular with business travellers. The airline contributed to a 1993 peak in passenger arrivals, when 529,000 visitors came to Australia from Japan.

Following 1993, declining passenger volumes mirrored a steady wind-down in Japanese inward investment into Australia. This led ANA to close its Sydney–Narita service in 1999 and from then until 2015 the route was served by Qantas and Japan Airlines.

The revitalised ANA service arrives as ANA’s fortunes continue to climb. In the 2015 financial year, the airline carried 50.8 million passengers and generated revenues of ¥1.7 trillion (A$22 billion).

As well as its numerous SKYTRAX awards, ANA was voted Airline of the Year for 2013 by Air Transport World Magazine. In October 2011, ANA became the launch customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is now operating on Australian routes; ANA is the world’s biggest operator of this ultra-efficient, mid-sized jet.