Japan’s ANA to debut flights to Milan, Stockholm and Istanbul


All Nippon Airways will launch three new routes between Tokyo and European cities in fiscal 2024 and resume or expand service on existing routes, tapping into renewed post-pandemic demand for travel to Japan.

The Japanese carrier begins flights between Haneda Airport and Milan, Stockholm and Istanbul in the latter half of the fiscal year. The airline had intended to start serving the three cities before its plans were scuttled by the pandemic.

ANA also resumes service between Haneda and Vienna in August after a hiatus of over four years, with three round-trip flights weekly. Combined with the new cities, this lifts the carrier’s European routes to nine, from five now. It will add more flights to Munich and Paris as well in July, operating seven per week each.

The airline just this month announced a codeshare agreement with ITA Airways, Italy’s state-owned flag carrier.

This expansion in Europe comes amid a sharp rebound in inbound tourism to Japan since the pandemic ended, even as the need to avoid Russian airspace after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has made flights to the continent longer and more expensive.

The number of visitors to Japan was up 8% in December 2023 compared with the pre-COVID figure in December 2019, setting a record for the month, the Japan National Tourism Organization reports. Arrivals from North America, Australia, the Middle East and Asia all rose over that period. Visitors from Europe were still down around 10% to 20%, but are expected to pick up going forward.

A dearth of regular flights has hindered the recovery there. While ANA’s North American and Hawaiian service is nearly back to pre-COVID levels and service in Oceania and Asia excluding China has recovered to 70%, the carrier still has just over half as many flights to Europe as it did before the pandemic. ANA hopes that adding more will stoke demand.

Japanese airlines and travel companies had long planned their strategies around Japanese demand for overseas business and leisure travel, but inbound demand is becoming increasingly important.

Finance Ministry data shows that the travel category in Japan’s balance of payments turned positive in 2015 after many years in the red. It nearly tripled on the year in 2022 to 624.2 billion yen ($4.22 billion at current rates), and the weak yen is expected to fuel further growth.

Soaring international fares have been a major source of profit for airlines. ANA’s revenue per passenger on international routes totaled 103,310 yen in the first half of fiscal 2023, up 68% from the same period of fiscal 2019, while Japan Airlines logged a 73% jump to 95,443 yen for the same time frame.

ANA looks to boost earnings further by moving before competitors to ready its fleet for increased service to Europe.


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