The Force is strong in this one: ANA's Star Wars plane

Picture courtesy of All Nippon Airlines

A long time ago, at a departure gate far, far away...

Air New Zealand might have the Hobbits from 'Middle Earth', but All Nippon Airways (ANA) now has Star Wars. The Japanese airline announced an R2-D2 livery on its new 787-9 Dreamliner, which is just the start of a five-year ANA Star Wars Project.

Star Wars celebration in CA
Star Wars celebration in CA

"The R2-D2 motif works well with ANA's blue logo design on the aircraft's fuselage," said Takashi Shiki, ANA Executive Vice President, sales and marketing.

"And many people associate R2-D2 with competent and reliable service."

Indeed, the fictional character is beloved to Star Wars fans for his loyal service to his human and not-so-human companions.

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The partnership between ANA and the cult movie franchise is part of ANA's strategy to boost its international presence. The carrier has started expanding its flight network to meet the demand for air travel in routes to Japan, and flights connecting the U.S. with Asia.

Die-hard Star Wars fans will have a chance to be transported by R2-D2 later this year.

"We hope that like Star Wars, ANA will become well known and loved across all borders and generations," said Shiki.

This comes on the back of the release of the latest trailer for the seventh installment in the Star Wars series, "The Force Awakens," which is set to release in December.