Friday, October 28, 2011

ANA looks at possible San Jose service next year

Laying down on the job again, Ben Wang checks out the new All Nippon Air (ANA) "First Class" accomadations to be offered on future flights.
(Photo by Vicki Thompson)   

San Jose is in the running for a new flight to Japan, according to officials for All Nippon Airways.

But officials of ANA, which has eclipsed Japan Airlines as that nation’s largest air carrier, aren’t likely to make any announcements on new service between Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport until sometime next year. They’re awaiting additional deliveries of the new, fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet, before making commitments to new airports. ANA is the first airline to take delivery of the jets, having purchased 55 that will arrive in phases over the next four years.

San Jose officials have been negotiating with ANA management for about three years to bring a daily flight to Silicon Valley.

Gary Weiss, ANA’s Los Angeles-based director of market development for the Americas, said Tuesday San Jose is one of 10 cities in the United States that are candidates for new or additional service. The airline now has one daily flight between San Francisco International Airport and Japan, and also serves Honolulu, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington D.C.

Though they’re hedging on San Jose, Weiss and other ANA officials were in the Bay Area’s largest city Tuesday to show off new seating and other services being added to its existing fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft. The new seats in economy, business and first class will be offered on flights from SFO beginning Dec. 6. They feature more room, individual video screens and the ability to recline 180 degrees at the higher ticket level.

The display filled the spacious rotunda of San Jose City Hall, the only Bay Area stop for the ANA traveling show. The Silicon Valley setting reflects the geography of the airline’s biggest clients, according to Weiss.

“Seventy percent of our (local) clients are in Santa Clara County and the peninsula,” Weiss said. That group includes such companies as Google Inc. .. , Intel Corp. .. and Hewlett-Packard Co .. .

Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who traveled along with a delegation led by Mayor Chuck Reed to ANA headquarters in Japan earlier this year, said he’s optimistic about San Jose’s chances of securing the flight.

“We haven’t closed the deal, but we are dating,” Guardino quipped when asked about the talks. “I am more than cautiously optimistic.”

He said additional meetings between city and airline officials are scheduled.

Bill Sherry, the city’s director of aviation, said he was more in the “cautiously optimistic” camp.

“We’ve had three years of conversation,” Sherry said. “It has gotten more serious in the last six months.”

ANA’s display comes exactly five years after American Airlines ended its 16-year daily flight between San Jose and Tokyo.

“It is vital this flight be resumed,” Guardino said. “Time is money and it is tremedously inefficient for Silicon Valley CEOs and their employees to drive past the San Jose airport on their way to SFO to suffer through inevitable delays that are based on weather.”

(David Goll - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal)

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