Still waters run deep

ALL Nippon Airways (ANA) is often considered the shy wallflower of Japanese carriers compared to Japan Airlines (JAL). It is better known within Japan than internationally and yet while JAL has been busy growing its debts and now filed for bankruptcy protection, ANA has generally been quietly getting on with its business of making a profit. Obviously, the global economic and industry slump has dented that but with JAL starting to go through some painful restructuring ANA has the opportunity to seize valuable international market share.For the first three quarters of the financial year 2009/10, the carrier carried 125,000 tonnes of cargo, an increase of 15.3 per cent, with over half of this – 54,000 tonnes – being in the last quarter alone. Much of this recovery was due to routes to and from China, which saw a rebound late last year.However, ANA closed 2009 with a net loss of ¥35 billion (US$390 million). This compares with a net profit of ¥9 billion ($100 million) in the same period of 2008. Operating revenues were down 17 per cent to ¥924 billion ($10.3 billion), operating expenses down 10 per cent to ¥962 billion ($10.7 billion). ANA’s forecast for the full financial year, ending 31 March, projects an operating revenue of ¥1,260 billion ($13.9 billion), down 9.4 per cent from the year before.In its corporate plan ANA said that the “lethargic nature of [the] economic recovery, [and] the trend of slow recovery for the Japanese domestic aviation business is likely to continue”, adding that the aviation “environment remains challenging”.Nonetheless, with JAL’s restructuring ANA is planning 2010 to be a “year of expansion”, citing impending capacity increases at both of Tokyo’s airports – Haneda and Narita – the eventual delivery of the 787 Dreamliner and Japan and the US’ Open Skies agreement. In particular, cargo is to be a prime focus. ANA’s Okinawa hub network, which started in October 2009, has operated well, and “by making cargo ANA’s third core business we hope to both strengthen and build upon its success to date”.

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