Shinichi Inoue, ANA President & CEO, said at an interview with Travel Voice that one of the reasons for ANA to survive the unprecedented crisis was that ANA returned to its start-up sprite when ANA was launched with only two helicopters 71 years ago. Inoue talked about what ANA values i in a time of uncertainty after the pandemic, when he joined WiT Japan & North Asia 2023.
Full recovery of outbound travel from Japan is a matter of time
ANA has accelerated recovery of its international flight network expecting that international flight passengers in 2023 may be back to 90% of those in 2019. Inoue, however, recognized that leisure travel demand from Japan is still slow to recover, Although ANA carried 275% more international flight passengers from Japan in this Golden Week period than a year ago, especially 5.4 times more on the Honolulu route, Inoue pointed out, “Generally speaking, concerns about overseas travel still seem to remain with several challenges, such as passport application cost or COVID-19 infection in a destination.”
In addition, ANA has not restored its Europe flights to the pre-pandemic level because of the Ukraine Crisis. Inoue said, “Demand is actually high on the Europe routes, but it is still difficult for us to restore the flights because of a difficulty of flight crew rotation for longer hour flights than usual.”
Even though there are such challenges, Inoue is optimistic,. saying “Full recovery of outbound travel from Japan is a matter of time.”
To know about inbound travelers’ trends is important in the domestic flight market
ANA has already restored its domestic flight network to the pre-pandemic level. Looking at the future, ANA is trying to carry more inbound travelers on its domestic flights to send them to local areas in Japan. ‘For that, we need to study details of the inbound travel market trends by segment,” Inoue said. “I think we can explore new demands we don’t see yet. We need to have market-in approaches.”
As one of the potential demands, ANA has a great expectation to ‘Adventure Travel World Summit 2023 (ATWS 2023)’ in Hokkaido in this coming September. ANA is one of the partners for the event, ‘SIT or Special Interest Travel is a great opportunity to expand the leisure travel market,” Inoue said. “SIT travelers are expected to stay longer and spend more money for their interests.”
Showing his interests in ChatGPT or face recognition
One of the ANA’s strategies is to enrich touch-points with customers, for which ANA is developing ‘ANA Smart Travel’ upgrading travel experiences on its mobile app. “ We do not mean that we reduce human-based services,” Inoue said. “Our gaol is to improve user convenience with human-based services and digital solutions combined.”
In addition, Inoue personally showed his ambition to introduce generative AI or ChatGPT, though ANA does not have a concrete plan for that. Also, Inoue said that he is interested in face recognition system at an airport.
ANA’s start-up spirit
Having the start-up spirit 71 years ago, ANA has survived the crisis that all airplanes were grounded. Inoue explained about the spirit, “We first take actions, and then we learn from the error.”
ANA has been creating a variety of new products from employees’ innovative ideas, such as eco-friendly room shoes recycled from old aircraft seats, during the pandemic.
Inoue said, “In a time of uncertainty, I believe that repeating actions is more important than discussing what we can do.” The Peach Aviation’s proactive sprit, which has been valued when Inoue became the first president for the LCC, is now reflected in the ANA’s businesses.