ALL Nippon Airways (ANA) has become the first Asian airline to operate the Boeing 777, having taken delivery last week of the new twin-engine jet in a ceremony at the manufacturer's headquarters near Seattle.
ANA, which was a launch customer for the base-model 777-200, is also one of four Asia-Pacific carriers to have launched the 777-300, a higher capacity variant announced in Paris in June.
In late 1990, the airline placed firm orders for 15 777-200s and secured options on a further 10. It later placed firm orders for three more, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4074 engines.
In June, ANA ordered 10 777-300s and placed options on five more, bringing to 28 the number of firm 777 orders from the airline.
ANA is one of Boeing's largest 777 customers - second only to United Airlines - and as orders stand will be the largest operator of the aircraft outside the United States.
Boeing said it would deliver 19 777s by the end of the year, including one more to ANA, with about 30 more next year.
Cathay Pacific Airways, which also helped launch the 777-300 in Paris, will take delivery of its first 777-200 in March.
ANA said it would use the 777 on its domestic routes, with revenue services beginning on December 23 between Tokyo's Haneda and Osaka's Itami airports.
ANA's domestic flights system last year carried more than 34 million passengers.