An Emirates A380 at the 2015 Dubai Air Show

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is reported to be buying three Airbus 380s, the first Japanese carrier to do so. It plans to operate the aircraft to Hawaii and other long-haul destinations.

The A380s in question are thought to have been part of a four-aircraft order, plus two options, originally placed by Japan’s Skymark Airlines in 2010, as the then low-cost carrier sought to convert to a full service model and launch routes to North America and Europe.

Airbus pulled out of the deal in July 2014, seemingly concerned about Skymark’s financial viability.

Skymark duly filed for bankruptcy protection last year. In August, creditors agreed to restructure the airline under the control of Japanese private equity fund Integral Corporation, with ANA and two banks taking minority stakes.

Industry speculation is that the three A380s now destined for ANA have been in long-term storage at Airbus’s Toulouse headquarters since the cancellation of the Skymark order.

Airbus has delivered 176 A380s, 69 of them to Emirates, since the aircraft entered into service in 2007. The Dubai-based carrier also accounts for more than half the 141 A380s currently on order, prompting comment in some quarters that the manufacturer is overly dependent on one main customer and that the programme has been a failure. Notoriously among the air freight community, the A380 is not “cargo friendly”.

Yet Emirates, for which cargo has always been a major revenue component, clearly remains convinced. It will take delivery of 20 more A380s and 16 B777-300ERs during 2016, adding new capacity as well as offsetting the retirement of 26 older Airbus and Boeing aircraft.