Sponsor interview: ANA is working towards realising 'Gentle Skies for Everyone' and serving as a bridge between Tokyo and the world

‘Hello Blue, Hello Future – Making 2020 Everyone's Runway’. This is the tagline All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. (hereafter: ANA) is promoting in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games. In 2020, a diverse array of people from all over the world will be visiting Japan – from athletes and Games-related personnel to spectators. As an official airline partner of the Tokyo 2020 Games, ANA will be thinking about how to provide the optimal service(“OMOTENASHI”) both in-flight and at airports – the gateways to Japan. In this partner interview, we look at how ANA is aiming to make the most of this unprecedented experience and how its preparations are progressing.

Four activities for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Could you please tell us about the initiatives ANA is undertaking for the Tokyo 2020 Games?

Takuya Konari, Manager, Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Promotion Division, Corporate Planning, All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.

The communication brand ANA is sharing among all its employees is ‘Hello Blue, Hello Future – Making 2020 Everyone's Runway’. Blue refers to the blue planet Earth, or in other words the world. But at the same time blue is also ANA's brand colour. It also encompasses the idea of ANA serving as a bridge to connect the world with Tokyo, and by extension all of Japan. It also incorporates the important corporate message of striving to realise our aim of providing ‘Gentle Skies for Everyone’, regardless of nationality, age or gender, and creating a future that brings happiness to all people.
We believe our contribution to the success of the Tokyo 2020 Games will be a significant step towards achieving these goals. To date, we have been communicating this message both within the company and to the wider world, and it gradually seems to taking root.

Takuya Konari explains about the four main activities that ANA are undertaking in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games

Broadly speaking, ANA is promoting four main activities for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. As an official airline partner, the first of these activities is contributing to the success of the Games through the provision of safe and comfortable passenger air transportation services. The second, as encapsulated by our tagline ‘Gentle Skies for Everyone’, is promoting both tangible and intangible universality, and contributing to the realisation of a fully inclusive society. The third is demonstrating the collective power of our staff by encouraging all ANA employees to take part in activities, and contribute to the success of the Games while also achieving growth as a team. The final activity is utlising the results gained in the above activities to enhance the value of the ANA brand, and to continue playing a role in the development of society long after the 2020 Games are over.

To achieve these aims, we are placing a premium on intercommunication, formulating a variety of sport- and cultural-related plans, and focusing on providing opportunities that make it easy for our staff to participate. One of these activities is the Japan Walk event, which is connected to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Yoriko Suwa, Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Promotion Division, Corporate Planning.
I am involved in the Japan Walk on the operations side. The rules of many Paralympic events and individual Paralympians are not widely known. So, as part of our efforts to raise general awareness of Paralympic events, we are holding Paralympic-themed quizzes at the ANA booth with the aim of encouraging people to become interested in the Paralympics while also having fun. The Japan Walk event enables people of all generations to come together to take part, and I think it's a very worthwhile event.

One piece of content that has derived from the tagline ‘Hello Blue, Hello Future – Making 2020 Everyone's Runway’ is ‘Hello 2020 Jet’. I understand that you held various initiatives such as holding an open design competition, a public vote, and an aircraft painting project when you commissioned a new aircraft. Could you tell us more about that?

Naomi Hashiguchi, Market Communication, Marketing.

First of all, I remember that when we decided on a specially-painted aircraft, we thought it that the project would raise great momentum but at the same time be very difficult to implement, so we knew we would have to prepare ourselves for all sorts of potential issues. This is because we knew that it wouldn't be enough merely to hold a special-painting project just for the sake of it, and leave it at that. The aircraft was commissioned to come into service in January 2018, but we began inviting people to take part in the project in October 2016 when momentum and excitement for the Tokyo 2020 Games was still rather dormant. We thought that our ‘Hello 2020 Jet’ project might contribute to raising the momentum for the Tokyo 2020 Games, so we opened up the the design project to the public, and invited the general public to vote for their favourite design.

Naomi Hashiguchi explains about the specially-painted aircraft project

We received an extremely large number of positive comments such as ‘this is an aircraft that I'd really like to fly on’, and ‘it really symbolises a dream’. And the comments from those who entered the design competition, those who voted and those who actually flew on the aircraft gradually resulted in raising momentum for the project. A third-year junior high school student won the design contest, and all of us involved in the project were absolutely delighted.

For the inside of the aircraft, we provided new aprons and headrest covers. We came up with various ideas to match the external appearance of the aircraft, but in the end we opted for a conventional design with the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem, and this was very well received.

The specially-painted aircraft

The specially-painted aircraft

Specially-provided aprons and headrest covers

Leveraging the Paralympics to realise a fully inclusive society

Suwa

Since being assigned to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, I have been working on the premise that the success of the Paralympic Games is a vital part of the success of the whole Games. I'm sure there are some people that see the Paralympic Games as a special event for people with an impairment, but of course the Paralympic Games are not only for people with impairments. As we age, we all eventually begin to need different types of support, so I think the Paralympic Games provide us with the perfect opportunity to turn our thoughts to creating a society in which everyone can lead a comfortable life.

Yoriko Suwa is working with the belief that the success of the Paralympic Games will be a vital factor in the overall success of the Tokyo 2020 Games

Could you tell us about the services you are providing under the slogan ‘Gentle Skies for Everyone’, and the initiatives you are carrying out to promote universality?

Suwa
The services we provide are not merely limited to the airport or on-board the aircraft. We strive to provide a range of seamless services that commence before a passenger's journey begins right through to after landing at the destination. We envisage all scenarios from the passengers' viewpoint from ticket reservation, issuing tickets and boarding through to landing at the destination, and examine the kind of services passengers require at each of these different stages. At the airport, we have a Special Assistance Desk to assist those passengers with a physical impairment, those travelling with young children or those with other particular requirements. After first setting up a Special Assistance Desk at Haneda Airport in 2016, we now have desks at Sapporo's Shin Chitose Airport, Chubu Airport, Itami Airport, Kansai Airport, Fukuoka Airport and Naha Airport in Okinawa. The desks all have specially designed low counters to enable all passengers to approach us with peace of mind.

ANA has a large number of staff that come into direct contact with passengers, and we are developing e-learning courses and hands-on experience-based lessons to enable staff in departments that come into direct contact with passengers to plan products and services that take into account the wide diversity of our passengers.

The value of supporting athletes, and the power of sport

I understand that ANA currently employs 21 athletes, and that you plan to hire four more athletes next spring. What are your thoughts on providing support for athletes?

Hashiguchi
Many different companies take on challenges in a wide range of fields, but I always try to make sure that I never forget that the ANA Group started up as a company with just two helicopters. At the beginning, it was thought that ANA wouldn't be able to fly international routes, but we overcame a host of challenges and now flying internationally is accepted as a matter of course. This thing that we now take for granted actually began by taking on a new challenge. Despite all the efforts, failure must have been a real possibility. In the same way, athletes take on challenges as they attempt to pioneer the future of their sport. The keywords for ANA's action guidelines are ‘Effort and Challenge’, and it is the athletes who personify these keywords. I believe that when other ANA staff and members of the general public see the athletes trying so hard, it might prompt them to think about their vision of what they might be able to achieve if they try just as hard. Also, by providing support through our everyday operations such as transporting athletes to their events, we feel as if we are also carrying their hopes and dreams. We are also among the first to welcome the athletes back after they have completed their event, and from that perspective I truly believe that I am blessed to be working in such a rewarding job, as well as immensely proud.

I understand that some time ago a number of ANA members voiced concerns about how to use athletes. Is the company now beginning to realise the benefits of employing athletes?

Kohei Yamashita, ANA athlete, Human Resources Strategy Office

I only joined ANA in April, but I feel really blessed to be in such a wonderful environment. ANA staff give me great support at event venues, and many of the staff at work know my results and come up to me directly to give me encouragement and support. My aim for the Tokyo 2020 Games is at least to make the final, and I'll also have a medal in my sights. (Yamashita is a triple jumper who competed in the triple jump event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games).

Kohei Yamashita has his sights set on a medal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Hashiguchi
The power of sport and athletes is so much more than I had ever imagined. And we need that power at the company. I don't want us to only support the athletes, but to contribute to enabling the athletes to perform to the peak of their abilities by whatever means we can.

Helping to resolve a wide range of societal issues even after the Games are over

Could you please tell us about the next-generation support programme you are currently conducting?

Hashiguchi
It all started with the question of how the younger generation would perceive the Tokyo 2020 Games. As a company with ambitions to be one of the world's leading airlines, we wanted to do something to support those members of the younger generation who are aiming to become elite-level athletes and who, like ANA, also harbour aspirations of making an impact on the global stage. I believe this is an extremely worthwhile project. This is because it is not only sport that is able to transcend nationality and language barriers to communicate. Culture and art also have this ability. With regard to culture, communicating Japanese culture to the world is in perfect alignment with our corporate vision of developing global communications. That is why we established this support programme for culture and the arts, not only to provide support for athletes but also for ikebana (traditional Japanese flower arrangement), music and other cultural and artistic pursuits.

Please tell us about your new initiatives for the Tokyo 2020 Games and your aims for after 2020.

Yamashita
I have very high targets for the Tokyo 2020 Games, so I am working on nurturing a spirit of challenging myself and exerting my utmost efforts to help me achieve personal growth. During this process, I would like to receive as much support as possible. I also want to give my best performance to make ANA staff feel proud of me. More than anything, I will try as hard as I can to repay the wonderful support I am given.

Hashiguchi
It's my job to communicate to the world the activities ANA is undertaking for the Tokyo 2020 Games as well as our initiatives that transcend the Games. A year or so before the Games, momentum both in Japan and overseas will begin to get higher, and I am looking forward to telling the world what ANA is aiming to do. First of all, we want to let the world know that sport has the power to bring the world together. Another perspective is universality. ANA is evolving with its aim of providing ‘Gentle Skies for Everyone’, and leveraging the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo 2020 Games, we want to expand our vision a bit further afield to encompass more people. We hope this initiative will serve as a legacy that yields new types of communication, and contributes to the realisation of a fully inclusive society.

Suwa
I would like us to contribute to resolving a wide range of societal issues and not only those related to the airline industry. I have been involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 since 2016, and when I first came to know more about Paralympic events I found them really interesting. At first, there didn't appear to be much interest or excitement and I thought it would be a difficult task, but now I have the impression that there is a much higher level of understanding of the Paralympics and momentum is rising within the company. I think it is really important that we continue our activities and provide accurate information to our staff to ensure these interest and excitement levels do not wane. The first thing that visitors from around the world in 2020 will come into contact with is our airline industry. We want to provide the athletes, Games-related personnel and spectators from abroad with real ANA-style hospitality, care and comfort. We will also aim to provide support to enable the athletes to perform to the peak of their abilities. The Tokyo 2020 Games will provide another wonderful opportunity for us to communicate the attractions of Japan to the world.

Konari
First and foremost, I feel that it is a real honour for us to be involved in the Tokyo 2020 Games as a Games partner. I want to be able to communicate the new things I have learned through my role such as the power of sport and the importance of universality to as many people at the company as possible by enabling them to experience it for themselves. I believe that promoting these activities will result in helping individual members of staff to achieve personal growth and enhance teamwork as well as contribute to improving overall work performance. I really hope that this results in visitors to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Games being amazed that there is an airline company like this in Japan.

Four ANA staff relate their various thoughts and hopes for the Tokyo 2020 Games

A model of the specially-painted aircraft

It is the people working in the airline industry who will give visitors from around the world their first impressions of Japan in 2020. During this interview, I have become increasingly aware of the keen responsibility that the company feels, and the passion that drives it to continue taking on new challenges and exerting its utmost efforts. I very much hope that the initiatives being taken by ANA to realise ‘Gentle Skies for Everyone’ continue to garner much attention.

HELLO BLUE, HELLO FUTURE Making 2020 Everyone's Runway.(Open in a new window)