Following a ribbon cutting and sake ceremony, the inaugural flight of All Nippon Airway's (ANA) newest route bound for Tokyo Narita Airport, departed Houston George Bush International Airport last Friday morning - underscoring the global importance of the city of Houston.
"We aim to provide our customers with greater choice and flexibility for destinations and travel schedules," said Osamu Shinobe, President and CEO of ANA. "As a key market for the U.S. oil and gas industry, expanding service to Houston— the tenth United States destination for ANA— emphasizes our desire to make travel more convenient. Additionally, this new route will allow us to improve access between Asia and Latin America."
A member of the Star Alliance and joint venture partner with United Airlines, ANA expanded its nonstop service to Houston, providing passengers with additional daily flights between Houston and Tokyo. Star Alliance members can now choose a morning or afternoon departure in each direction, providing greater flexibility for travelers, especially those taking advantage of ANA's expanded service to other Asian and American destinations beyond Houston or Tokyo.
"The economic and cultural ties that exist between Houston and Japan continue to strengthen and the arrival of All Nippon Airways is a testament to that growth," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "The City of Houston is thrilled to welcome Japan's leading airline, and we look forward to enjoying an even greater level of connectivity in Asia, thanks to ANA's extensive global route network."
"The demand for nonstop air service between Houston and Asia is currently at unprecedented levels," added Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. "All Nippon Airways recognizes the strong growth opportunities that exist in the Houston market and they're anxious to capitalize on them. We welcome their arrival and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership."
The Boeing 777-300ER used for today's flight was welcomed to the gate with an official water turret salute. The 250-seat passenger plane includes eight first class and 52 business class seats to accommodate travelers.
Today's ceremony began with a Taiko Japanese drum performance by local group, Kaminari Taiko. Diaz and Shinobe each addressed the attendees, and they were joined by additional remarks from Jim Compton, United Airlines Vice Chairman and Chief Revenue Officer, and the Honorable Nozomu Takaoka, Consul-General of Japan in Houston and Bob Pertierra, SVP and Chief Economic Development Officer, Greater Houston Partnership. Also in attendance from the office of the Governor of Texas was Oliver Yang, there to present Shinobe with a proclamation. In a gift exchange honoring Texas and Japanese culture, Diaz presented Shinobe with a Stetson cowboy hat and Shinobe reciprocated with an ANA B777 model plane.
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