All Nippon Airways has broken ranks with Japan Airlines and will configure its B777-300ERs with ten-across seating in economy.
Until recently, both ANA and JAL had prided themselves on offering old-fashioned standards of comfort in their economy cabins.
Both Japanese carriers remained aloof from the current trend of squeezing in an increasing number of economy passengers on their B777s and B787s to raise extra cash.
Indeed, both remain the world's only B787 Dreamliner operators to honour Boeing's recommended eight-across economy class seating.
But last year ANA decided to break ranks with its local rival (see news, July 2013) when its newly-acquired B787s with premium economy seating adopted a fresh layout whereby the economy cabin was downgraded from eight-across to nine-across. These particular planes have been observed on ANA's German routes.
Now airlineroute.net reports that ANA has also broken ranks with JAL over its B777-300ER seating.
Ironically, on the day when ANA was boasting of its five-star status, it quietly updated its seat plan chart (Japanese language only) to include a B777-300ER variant with this latest layout – see the top entry here.
ANA operates the B777-300ER in various configurations. The latest four-cabin layout accommodates eight passengers in first, 52 in business, 24 in premium economy and 180 in the economy cabin. That gives a total passenger count of 264.
By the standards of other B777-300ER carriers, that's not excessive (Air Canada's new three-class B777-300ERs squeeze in 458 passengers). But ANA's tighter economy cabin allows it to boost the seat count from 166 to 180.
Fourteen seats may not seem a lot, but on ANA's high revenue routes a fully-booked aircraft could conceivably earn thousands of pounds in extra revenue per flight.
ANA's four-class B777-300ERs are its flagships and operate important routes linking Japan with the US and Europe.
At this stage, it is unclear if or when the new variant will come to Europe. But as London is one of ANA's most popular destinations, it must only be a matter of time before the latest B777-300ER makes an appearance at Heathrow.