When will “superjumbo” wide-body planes fly into the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport? When turtles fly.
All Nippon Airways brought the state’s largest airport one step closer to accommodating the world’s largest aircraft with the completion of the first of two test flights of its colorful A380 “Flying Honu” this morning. The blue aircraft was painted to look like a giant, friendly turtle
The test flight puts the carrier on the path to its 2020 goal of doubling the number of its seats that connect Honolulu to Tokyo. ANA currently offers three daily flights connecting Honolulu and Tokyo on its Boeing 787 aircraft, which carry 200 to 250 passengers. Come May the carrier plans to add wide-body aircraft service four times weekly on its A380 aircraft, which will seat approximately 520 passengers. In July, ANA will add a second A380 to the Hawaii market and a third in July of 2020.
“After a successful test flight, we are more excited than ever to serve Honolulu with our A380 Flying Honu service,” said Hiroshi Shibata, ANA Hawaii general manager in a statement. “This aircraft not only offers a unique in-flight experience, but represents ANA’s commitment to sustainability, and most importantly, Hawaii’s communities.”
The test flight, which was flown by two pilots, carried three passengers from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, which is Japan’s equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration, and another three ANA workers. The main goal was to ensure that the gigantic aircraft could successfully hook up to the three passenger-loading bridges attached to two new Honolulu airport gates that were built for the wide-body aircraft.
Ross Higashi, deputy director of the airports division for the state Department of Transportation, said the state made $13 million in airport improvements so that A380 service could commence in Honolulu, which has become the eleventh city airport in the U.S. that is equipped for the wide-body aircraft. ANA also invested $5 million in a new airport passenger lounge, which will become the state’s largest passenger lounge.
By 2020, ANA’s new service is expected to bring an additional $285 million in economic impact to the state and as much as $30 million in tax revenue, Higashi said.