April 5, 2014 4:07 am JST

All Nippon Airways to beef up employees' English skills

TOKYO -- All Nippon Airways will launch a companywide initiative in June to improve the English-language proficiency of its workforce, part of the Japanese carrier's major expansion plans for its international service.

     Over three years, ANA aims to bolster the skills of 1,000 staff members through English lessons, which are to target almost all employees -- with the exception of pilots -- regardless of age or position.

     The move comes as the carrier plans to expand service on its international routes by 45% over fiscal 2013 levels by fiscal 2016. The training will be promoted on a "semi-mandatory" basis, as one official put it, for those workplaces where the expansion demands English proficiency.

     ANA will use curricula developed especially for airlines by EF Education First, a company out of Sweden. All employees will be able to take the standard course using online materials. Some workers selected by the company will receive upper-level training, including one-on-one lessons. ANA will cover the majority of the course fees.

     Since April 2012, ANA has required employees to score at least 700 on the TOEIC English proficiency examination to assume a managerial position. There was no explicit standard for existing managers.