TOKYO -- Passengers on a special New Year's Day flight operated by All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) had a sky-high view of the first sunrise of Jan. 1, the first New Year's Day of the new Reiwa era, over Mount Fuji.
The unique flight was the 20th the airline has arranged for passengers to see the year's first sunrise over the country's highest mountain.
The Boeing 787-8 aircraft, using the code "ANA 2020" and carrying about 200 crew members and passengers, departed from Haneda Airport in Tokyo's Ota Ward just after 5:30 a.m. on New Year's Day.
At around 6:50 a.m., when the sun was seen appearing over Mount Fuji at an altitude of about 4,000 meters above the city of Komagane, Nagano Prefecture, excited passengers broke out into cheers and took photos.
Nozomi Kayahara, 11, a resident of the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Tsukuba who participated in the event with her father, said, "The first sunrise of the year seen from the sky was really beautiful. The traditional Japanese New Year's meal served on the flight was also good."
Japan national table tennis player Mima Ito, who is sponsored by ANA and will turn 20 years old in 2020, was aboard the flight and greeted passengers.
Ito, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, said, "My competitive spirit (for table tennis) received a boost from seeing the sunrise. I want to go undefeated this year."
The special flight is very popular as passengers can see the sunrise even in bad weather. Seats on Flight 2020 were booked up within about 20 minutes after ANA began accepting reservations on Nov. 12, 2019, according to the carrier.
(Japanese original by Masamitsu Kurokawa, Tama General Bureau)