With the next installment of the Star Wars franchise, 'The Force Awakens’, set to be released to world-wide fervour in December, Japan’s largest airline has been caught up in Star Wars mania.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) rolled out the first of its three planes decorated with Star Wars characters, with an R2-D2 ANA Jet (Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner) the first to be unveiled at a weekend launch at Boeing’s wide-body assembly line facility in Everett, Washington.
With the Star Wars theme playing in the background and fan favourites C3P0 and droid of the hour R2-D2 watching on, Star Wars fans cheered in approval as the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, painted with the likeness of RD-D2, emerged from its hangar.
More Star Wars planes to come
The R2-D2 ANA Jet will be the first time a Star Wars character has appeared on the exterior of an actual commercial aircraft.
The R2-D2 design was unveiled to fans earlier this year at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California.
The other Star Wars character set to adorn two ANA planes is a brand new character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens who goes by the name of BB-8.
BB-8 will adorn one plane by himself (a Boeing 777-300ER) and feature with R2-D2 on the outside of a Boeing 767-300.
The Star Wars themed planes are part of ANA’s Star Wars project which it launched in April, as part of a five-year promotional licence contract with The Walt Disney Company.
The licencing agreement will also see the ANA Star Wars planes become an absolute delight for fans, with their interior set to feature in flight decorations such as headrest covers, paper napkins and cups featuring Star Wars characters.
Passengers will also be able to enjoy all six of the Star Wars films – the first time they have been included as part of an in-flight entertainment system.
Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA, Hideki Kunugi, said the new planes would help to improve and energise the flying experience for both Star Wars fans and global passengers alike.
“Today the time has come to bring the ANA Star Wars project to life and we hope Star Wars fans across the world will be excited about our R2-D2 ANA Jet as we are,” he said.
“At ANA we’re always looking for ways to improve the flying experience for our passengers, and what better way to start your trip to Asia than on a one-of-a-kind Star Wars plane?”
The R2-D2 ANA jet is scheduled to begin its service of international routes on October 18, with its initial flight being between Tokyo and Vancouver, before it services other cities as part of ANA’s robust international network.
The two additional Star Wars planes will take to the skies in the following months, with the Boeing 767-300 to begin its domestic flights in November and the Boeing 777-300ER scheduled to start serving international routes primarily between Japan and the US in March next year.