Turtles! I have written about turtles before, but these are special turtles. Sky-bound turtles. Flying their route from Tokyo to Honolulu and back again. Catching the jet stream on the back of an Airbus 380 powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 900 turbofan engines. Japan’s national flag carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) had placed an order for three Airbus A380s to service the route from Tokyo to Hawaii and had held a contest with their passengers on how the plane's livery should look. Being Japanese, it was obviously going to be something incredibly, exceedingly, dare I say, comically “cute” and the public certainly did not disappoint! ANA is no stranger to outlandish and popular liveries on their fleet with their Boeing Star Wars paint jobs, and of course, the Boeing 747 Pokemon planes, but these new three planes look have a very sweet story behind them.
“Honu” is a Hawaiian word used affectionally to describe a sea turtle, which is considered to be a sacred creature in Hawaii. It is said that those who see this animal are to be blessed with good fortune and prosperity. ANA named these liveries the “Flying Honu” and hope that their passengers travelling to Hawaii shall also be blessed with good luck and good fortune. The first Flying Honu to take to the skies was Lani, in ANA blue representing the Hawaiian Sky. Lani was delivered to ANA in Toulouse at the Airbus Delivery Centre on March 20th and then had her first passenger flight on the route to Hawaii on May 24th, 2019. Kai will be the next to arrive in her Emerald Green livery depicting the Hawaiian ocean, and last will be La who depicts the Hawaiian sunset in her livery of Sunset Orange.
I was privileged to be at the delivery of the A380 to ANA in Toulouse along with Clara, who was the MC for the event. It was a beautiful event with a lot of meaning and Lani, and her friends will be sure to delight many passengers on the popular route between Tokyo and Hawaii. Shortly after the unveiling, most of the tickets had been reserved for flying on this specific plane. At the delivery ceremony, Airbus CEO Tom Enders, ANA CEO Shinya Katanozaka, and Rolls Royce President for Civil Aerospace, Chris Cholerton were present and signed a scale model of the Airbus. Chris Cholerton spoke about how sea turtles live to be about 80 years old and Rolls Royce and Airbus are committed to servicing the plane for a long time. Mr Katanozaka replied that in Japanese culture, it is believed that turtles can live to be 10,000 years old and he was happy to hear that the plane will have such a long service life!