TOKYO -- All Nippon Airways starts regular service between Tokyo and Vladivostok in March 2020, the first time a Russian city will be the final destination of its flights, Nikkei has learned.
The ANA Holdings unit is expected to offer several flights a week between the Tokyo area's Narita Airport and the Pacific port city using small aircraft with about 200 seats. The airline has flown to Moscow in the past, but those routes were stopovers on the way to Paris.
ANA looks to serve the rising number of Russian visitors to Japan. These visitors surged 22.7% to a record of about 94,800 in 2018, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The number has grown sharply since Japan eased visa requirements in 2017. The momentum has carried over into 2019, with visits growing 20.8% in the first half.
The airline also hopes that the flights spur economic cooperation between the two nations in Northeast Asia. A total of 49 Japanese companies operated in Vladivostok in 2017, up 11% from the prior year. ANA negotiated with Russian authorities over the new route for several years.
Rival Japan Airlines is also weighing the possibility of starting services between Narita and Vladivostok, possibly in 2020.