Japan's All Nippon Airways is one of few major overseas airlines still regularly flying to Australia during the coronavirus pandemic, albeit on a reduced schedule, with the coronavirus scuttling plans to launch double-daily flights between Sydney and Tokyo's downtown Haneda Airport in March.
However, the Star Alliance member and newly-minted Virgin Australia partner has now marked June 16 as a restart date for the postponed new NH889/NH890 flights, which will largely take place during daylight hours as a complement to the long-standing overnight NH879/NH880 service.
It's tentative at best, depending not only on government travel restrictions being lifted but also the public's willingness to travel, and has already been pushed once, having been previously set to resume from June 1.
Japan remains in a 'state of emergency', with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week asking people to conduct 'virtual family reunions' online during the national Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, which is the country's peak travel period.
2019 saw an estimated 24 million Japanese – 20% of the population – boarding planes and bullet trains to visit their family or take holidays.
Sydney-Tokyo flights continue
In normal times, Japan is one of Australia's favourite travel destinations, and ANA's double-daily service to Tokyo would compete against daily flights by Qantas and JAL on the popular route.
Until at least June 16, ANA will continue with three round-trips each week between Sydney and Tokyo.
NH879 will depart Tokyo at 10:30pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, calling into Sydney at 8:55am the next morning.
After spending the day on the ground, the return flight NH880 pushes back from Sydney at 8:55pm to arrive back at Tokyo around 5:30am.
The Perth-Tokyo route (NH881/NH882) remains in suspension.
In related news, ANA recently opened three new lounges in Terminal 2 of Tokyo Haneda Airport, which has international facilities added in preparation for the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Although ANA's Tokyo Haneda-Sydney flights were slated to depart from Terminal 2 at the end of March, giving lounge-worthy passengers access to ANA's new spaces, recent flight tracking data shows that NH879 is still currently departing from Terminal 3.
There aren't many international airlines still flying to Australia on a regular basis, and even fewer countries that are allowing transits for foreign nationals trying to get back home. Qatar and Tokyo are arguably the two best hubs for Australians to get back home through, flying Qatar Airways or ANA respectively.