Topic of the Week: ANA Brings the 787 to the US

787, ANA, SEA - Seattle, SJC - San Jose

ANA has announced that will start flying the 787 to the US. First market are Seattle and San Jose. Is that a surprise to you? My guess is that United will pull its Seattle to Tokyo flight, letting ANA fly it with a more appropriate airplane. San Jose, however, is different. American couldn’t make it work with a 777, but the 787 might just be the right size with the right costs to make it viable.

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17 comments on “Topic of the Week: ANA Brings the 787 to the US

  1. I think the fact that we’ve already seen NRT-SJC, NRT-BOS, and IAH-AKL (on ANA, JAL, and United, respectively) announced as some of the very early 787 routes is a pretty good indication of how much potential the 787 has as a gamechanger in the industry. I just hope performance on these routes lives up to expectations so that we can see further expansion of the 787 between new city pairs in the future.

  2. NRT-SEA is a fairly lucrative market that only is being served twice daily and with no Japanese airline service. I could see this working for ANA.

    One thing I that puts some doubts in my mind about these services is that ANA’s long-haul 787s will have so many business class seats (46) and relatively few economy class seats (112). That is a great ratio if you can fill the entire business cabin but will be awful if it goes out empty. Many corporations have clamped down on business class rules for their employees. While many companies allow business class to Asia it sounds like a majority of US companies make their employees fly the cheapest airline. That means ANA probably wont be able to command a revenue premium for this premium product aircraft.

    1. You’re thinking of this from an American perspective–think of it from a Japanese perspective as well. Japanese corporations may have less restrictive rules about flying in Business class, and may be more inclined to pick ANA over UA or DL on this route when flying Asia to the US.

  3. The one advanage of NH doing SJC-NRT is that it can connect traffic beyond Japan. AA had to rely on local traffic with not much online connections which can make a difference.

  4. My understanding is that UA 875/876 does a pretty good cargo business. Unless UA has better uses for the 772, why wouldn’t that flight remain in the system?

    1. I would bet that United does have better uses for that 777. With the combination with Continental, that should open up more opportunities to route aircraft differently and fly new routes. I imagine that there are far better uses for a 777 than Tokyo to Seattle.

  5. SJC: Seems smart to me. 3rd largest city in California with a huge Asia-bound tech community and – until now – no non-stop service. I know plenty of people in the area who will take this flight vs. drive up to SFO (especially now that a superior aircraft is on the route). 787 seems about the right size to unlock the potential of this route. But . . . let’s face it . . . SJC hasn’t quite found its groove yet (domestically or internationally), so all bets are off.

    SEA: Harder to tell. Hard to imagine SEA – NRT can support 3 daily flights, but when I’ve flown the UA flight previously, it was full. If they keep it, maybe UA downshifts to a 767, just to reduce excess capacity a bit? As for the ability to support those 46 biz class seats, I know MSFT still allows its 90K employees to fly biz class internationally. Not sure about Amazon and Boeing (two other local major companies likely to use this route).

    One question: don’t both of these routes (SEA in particular) seem like a waste of the 787’s long-range capabilities? I’m nearly certain ANA has 767’s in its fleet hat could made the SEA route. So . . . why now?

    1. The 787 is designed to perform various flight lengths efficiently. I think NH is also operating it to PKG & HKG which are much shorter flights. It’s really no different than the 737 operating flights between 300 & 3000 miles. I suppose the shorter flights “waste” the range, but so long as they can be performed economically they are within the mission of the aircraft.

      The SJC flight will have to survive on strictly O/D traffic – SJC isn’t much of a connecting hub and has very little *A connections. SEA is more of a connecting point with more *A connections, though most *A connections could be reached just as easily via SFO. If NH did some code-sharing with AS/QX that could extend their reach at SEA.

      Since NH & UA have a JV with ATI it makes sense that they will have discussed the routes. It’s not clear to me whether this foreshadows a departure from the route by UA. It’s certainly not something that any of the SEA-based FAs have heard.

  6. All I know is Tokyo wasn’t on my radar screen. But if ANA launches SJC with “introductory airfares” I don’t think I could pass up the opportunity for a 787 joy ride followed by some heavy plane spotting at NRT.

    1. DEN has been lobbying so hard at ANA. They know that ANA with a 787 to NRT is probably their best and only shot at Asia service, so they’re trying. There’s also US Government business to be had in Colorado.

      I think NRT-SJC is long overdue and will do fabulously if they can get some additional India connections.

      1. Who should get the “additional India connections”? ANA or SJC? I’m a bit confused on that. If ANA, I think the Indian government has a great deal to say about that. Given the state of Indian carriers these days, the Indian government is probably loathe to open doors for more carriers to take potential business from its own floundering airlines.

        If ANA starts DEN service, I wonder how UAL would feel about that as it could undercut feeds to SFO and LAX to some extent.

        Off topic, but what the hell does Emirates gain from a Philippine Airlines codeshare? Is that someone’s twisted idea of a joke…to go from flying on one of the classiest airlines out there to one that in some instances is worse than the US legacy carriers?

        1. On EK-PR: it might have something to do with tying up Manila-Gulf traffic. I’m not sure what its current status is, but in all of the various iterations of GF in the last 15 years, they’ve been very protective of their MNL traffic.

          1. Both GF and EK fly to MNL and both codeshare with PR so I’m not sure what GF gets to protect now. These codeshares would seem to benefit PR more than either EK or GF, especially now that PR has pulled out of the Middle East and Europe. But maybe I’m reading this all wrong.

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