Six weeks after Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) launched flights from Tel Aviv to Japan via Europe, ANA senior VP Yutaka Ito, who is visiting Israeli, said, "The Israeli market is important to us. We recognize its great and growing potential, and are interested in the passenger traffic between the two countries."
A direct Tel Aviv-Tokyo flight is in not yet in the cards, but Ito did not rule out the possibility, although "not in the immediate future."
An estimated 20,000 Israelis flew to Japan last year, half of them business passengers and half vacationers. Ito says this number has been growing yearly, thereby paving the way for the establishment of a local ANA office and investment in the business, which for now is focusing mainly on Israeli tourists, rather than bringing tourists from Japan to Israel.
The Japanese airline began sales of tickets to Israeli travelers a month ago with flight connections in six European cities: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, and Brussels.
Ticket prices from Tel Aviv to Tokyo start at $1,050 for tourist class and $3,100 for business class, including a regular El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL), Lufthansa, or Brussels Airlines flight to destinations in Europe, from where the connection flights to Tokyo leaves.
The shortest flight time from Tel Aviv is 17 hours via Brussels, including the wait for the connection flight.
Tickets can be purchased through the ANA website, anaskyweb.com, which only recently added Tel Aviv to its destinations.
There are cheaper alternatives through European airlines, including KLM, Air France, and Aeroflot.
ANA is the largest airline in Japan in terms of passengers and turnover, and has won prizes for its service. Founded in 1952, the airline has a fleet of 246 airliners flying to 80 international destinations and 112 Japanese destinations. The airline is a member of the Star Alliance, the world's largest global airline alliance.
ANA has signed a franchise agreement with the Walt Disney Company for airplanes labeled in the spirit of the Star Wars film, mainly on the US-Japan route. The airliners have been designed to look like one of the characters in the film, and during the flight, the passengers feel that they are on a trip to another galaxy.
"In contrast to the common belief that Japan is expensive, we're actually cheaper than Israel in many ways," added Osamu Maruyama, second secretary at the Japanese embassy to Israel during the visit to Israel by ANA's representatives, who will also make a presentation at the IMTM exhibition in Israel next week.
In order to illustrate what he is saying, Maruyama suggests looking at a price list reflecting the atmosphere in his country: "A bottle of Coke costs an average of NIS 4 - one third to one half of the price in Israel. Two sushi rolls cost NIS 3-4 - a quarter of the price in Israel."
He adds that hotel stays are also cheaper: "A single room in a business hotel in central Tokyo costs NIS 230 a night, and a double room in a Western-style hotel costs NIS 470."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 3, 2016
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