However, an airline spokeswoman tells Aviation Week that the length of the cancellations does not mean ANA is assuming the groundings will continue through May, and it has no new information about when the 787s are likely to resume service.
Rather, the airline was forced to extend the flight cancellations for another two months as a precaution, since the major Japanese holidays of Golden Week are approaching, falling in late April and early May this year. This follows a school vacation period in late March, when demand will also be high.
The ANA spokeswoman says the carrier is expecting a large number of bookings around Golden Week, so it needed to make a call on canceling flights as early as possible to minimize disruption for passengers. Leaving the cancellations until later would mean more passengers would have to be rebooked on different flights.
If the 787s are cleared to begin flying again before the end of May, the carrier would be unlikely to reinstate the canceled flights, says the spokeswoman. However, the aircraft could be used as “relief flights” to boost the domestic schedule where necessary.
The cancellations for April and May affect 1,250 domestic and 464 international flights. The 787 services that are not being canceled will be operated with other aircraft types, such as Boeing 777s on international routes.
In its domestic network, ANA is only canceling flights on routes that have multiple frequencies. To help cover some of the shortfall, it is expanding code-share arrangements with domestic carrier Solaseed Air—formerly Skynet Asia Airways—in the south of Japan, and with Air Do in the north.
In the international operation, ANA has decided to cancel flights from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Seattle and San Jose, Calif., for April and May, as well as flights to Seoul's Incheon Airport from Kansai International Airport in Osaka and Central Japan International Airport (also known as Chubu Centrair International Airport) in Nagoya.
The two Seoul flights are on the list because leisure demand on the routes has fallen. The San Jose and Seattle flights, meanwhile, are new routes that were specifically designed for the 787.
The San Jose flights had already been canceled in previous schedule updates. ANA only has authorization to fly the route with 787s; it did not apply to use other aircraft because the 787 is best-suited to projected demand. It would take months to apply to adjust the authorization to add another aircraft type, and the airline has no plans to do so.
ANA has so far been able to operate about half the scheduled Narita-Seattle flights in the weeks leading up to March 31 using alternate aircraft. However, it has now decided to suspend the service altogether through May. The ANA spokeswoman notes that it is difficult to make international routes work with just a few flights a week. Also, ANA can still offer code-share service with United Airlines on the route.