Star member ANA has surpassed oneworld founding member JAL as Japan’s largest international carrier by passenger traffic numbers. While the entry of low cost competition in 2012 has shrunk both airlines’ numbers domestically, ANA is posting strong gains in the international market.
OAG schedule data shows that capacity will be increased by about 7% from Japan despite drops being reported for German, Singaporean, Vietnamese and Guam bound flights. These drops are offset by a more than 10% increase in traffic to Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. Philippines bound traffic is also up an impressive 9.9% with new ANA flights to Manila and JAL flights to Cebu, Clark and Kalibo. Bigger yet is the jump in the Chinese market, which is expected to hit just over 35% this summer – an impressive jump over an already record setting summer in 2015.
While last year JAL just trumped ANA in terms of international passengers transported at 8.05 million versus 7.90 million, just in the first half of 2016 ANA has moved 4.25 million people internationally to JAL’s 4.07 million. New ANA international routes from Haneda to Guangzhou, Sydney, Shanghai and other routes from Narita to Brussels, Kuala Lumpur and Wuhan are part of the reason of the surge of NH passenger traffic.
What’s also interesting is that amongst international airlines operating into Japan, only Thai Airways and Korean Air have notched more than 10% passenger movement growth this year, TG with 10.7% and KE with 10.4%. This indicates while Star and Sky are doing well in the Japanese market, oneworld (and deductively JAL) are faring worse in the international market in and out of Japan. In fact, Cathay Pacific traffic, the next largest oneworld operator out of Japan after JAL, is down 2%.
What this all means is yet to be seen, and how load factors and yields are being split between Narita and Haneda will be telling once year end figures come in – but what is apparent is that ANA and Star Alliance are thriving in Japan – and when you take into account ANA subsidiary Vanilla Air’s aggressive domestic expansion over the past 12 months, its looks all the more damning for oneworld and JAL.