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Runway dining at $540 a meal proving hit in Japan

By Justin Harper

Business reporter, BBC News

Japan’s biggest airline is offering first-class dining on a parked plane at $540 (£392) a meal.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) started offering the service on Wednesday and has added more slots for April after they sold out quickly.

A number of airlines have been thinking creatively about what to do with grounded planes during the pandemic.

But Australia is trying to get its planes in the air with a $1.2bn (£660m) package to encourage domestic travel.

The global airline industry is facing its toughest ever challenge to survive amid tough quarantine and travel restrictions, that have already crippled some carriers.

Many have thought of creative ways to boost their revenues, with “flights to nowhere” proving popular, along with onboard dining on grounded planes.

In October, Singapore Airlines offered diners the opportunity to have lunch on a stationary Airbus A380 parked at the city’s main airport. Despite a price tag of up to £380 the first two seating dates sold out within half an hour.

Japan’s ANA dining experience takes place on a Boeing 777 parked at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

While a first-class seat costs 59,800 yen, diners can opt for a cheaper business-class experience for 29,800 yen. The “restaurant with wings” idea was conceived by employees who wanted to make better use of its parked aircraft.

Last week, British Airways also made its first class menu available through its catering partner DO & Co, although these meals are for home delivery. There’s a choice of four different cook-at-home meal kits, each serving two and starting from £80.

Up in the air

On Thursday, the Australian government launched its $1.2bn package aimed at getting people to spend on domestic travel. The scheme will halve the price of nearly 800,000 airline tickets and runs until the end of July.

Qantas, Virgin Atlantic and Jetstar have released half-price fares to more than 20 destinations. Qantas is also trialling a digital travel app.

On Wednesday, the global airline industry body IATA said a digital travel pass for Covid-19 test results and vaccine certificates will be launched on the Apple platform in mid-April.

“The application will only achieve its success once airlines, different countries, airports adopt it,” a spokesman for IATA said, explaining that its travel pass will help speed up check-ins.

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